Wednesday, January 18, 2012

BC responds to Steve Lively and I give my two cents

Last November, I was blind copied on a letter written by Steve Lively to the Board of Trustees. Earlier this week Lively followed up his first letter with another email. I ignored it this time. Since his last email, Lively had now included a racial component to his criticism that I didn't want to delve into. I certainly have my agenda and think race and sports are intertwined, but I don't necessarily want to endorse everything Lively is saying. He's certainly welcome to voice his opinions -- as many BC fans, alumni and bloggers have been doing for years. He also sprinkled in numerous personal anecdotes that make his argument seem less a mission to fix BC and more about "getting" Gene. [Copies of the full letter are on various message boards.]


BC finally responded to Lively's criticism with the following statement.


Steve Lively’s letter regarding Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo is perplexing and unfortunate, and filled with irresponsible and baseless claims. It has caused a number of people, including several of Steve’s former football teammates, to express concern for him and his judgment.



Under Gene’s leadership, the BC Athletics program has remained true to its traditions and the pursuit of excellence. Boston College has one of the highest student-athlete graduation rates in the country, its athletics facilities have been upgraded significantly, and its athletes have succeeded on the field and in service to the wider community.



Gene DeFilippo has the confidence, respect and support of countless members of the Boston College community, including University President Fr. William Leahy, as well as colleagues in intercollegiate athletics throughout the United States.



Jack Dunn, University Spokesman


I blame Gene for many of the issues currently facing BC sports. I also think he oversteps his role and can lack tact at times. That doesn't gloss over all his many accomplishments while at BC or the improvements he has made to the school. We joke about how he is quick to remind people what things were like when he arrived, but he does deserve credit. However, he is in a high profile role required to make tough decisions. Over 15 years you are going to upset people, make enemies and make plenty of poor decisions. Also after 15 years you will tend to get complacent, set in your ways and start to think your past success means you can always make the right decision. Gene's persona and the comments he continues to make to the media and alumni are going to cause controversy. As much as we would like a victory lap conclusion to his career and smooth transition to his retirement, he may be too controversial for that to happen.


Lively can keep challenging Gene, but the statement from Dunn shows that the school's leadership has Gene's back. At this point I recommend individual fans keep up with your personal feelings and continue to use your gifts to the school as a vehicle to send a message.

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14 Comments:

At 4:37 PM, Blogger harrow said...

The Dunn statement is a bit odd I think though. Basically he is saying Lively is crazy and his friends are worried. Why would BC say something like that about his judgment? Just say GDF has support and leave it at that.

 
At 4:46 PM, Blogger mod34b said...

Lively is a very poor spokesperson to make the case that GDF should go. Lively's racially based remarks are not substantiated in any way.

To be blunt, Lively's letter is an embarrassment coming from a BC grad, it is also a disservice to those many of us who wish to see new management at Yawkey.

Is that the entire BC response? Not a very good response.

This paragraph was interesting for what is not said:

Gene DeFilippo has the confidence, respect and support of countless members of the Boston College community, including University President Fr. William Leahy, as well as colleagues in intercollegiate athletics throughout the United States

What is missing GDF? Alumni, Students and Athletes.

 
At 4:47 PM, Blogger eagle1331 said...

I agree with Harrow... this the sort of response I'd expect posted between message board members, not the higher ups at BC and someone publicly complaining... It's more of an attack on the credibility of Lively than a response to the underlying issues which he presents (albeit poorly or inaccurately).

I also agree with Mod's last sentence...

 
At 4:54 PM, Blogger Tim said...

"To be blunt, Lively's letter is an embarrassment coming from a BC grad, it is also a disservice to those many of us who wish to see new management at Yawkey."

Agree.

 
At 8:45 PM, Blogger Lenny Sienko said...

The personal anecdotes related by Mr. Lively suggest that GDF has had a rocky relationship with Steve Lively over the years and GDF knows just which buttons to push to generate a reaction from Mr. Lively.

It is also easy for GDF to then point to Lively's criticism as baseless; q.u.e.d.; all criticism of GDF is baseless. GDF needed someone like Lively to write as he did, so he could jump on it. Lively's letter is a softball down the middle of the plate for GDF and Dunn to knock out of the park

After all the criticism of GDF of late, I find it odd that BC chooses to respond officially only to this email message. Remember "It doesn't matter..." what we or others think or say.

The pointed reference to Lively's mental health is a Soviet-like disparagement of Lively as a critic.

The antidote to GDF's current strategy is for many other alums to also write letters expressing their concerns--not to be intimidated by the response to Lively. Rather than criticizing Lively, write your own letter/message coherently, concisely, and critical of GDF.

 
At 9:54 PM, Blogger bcoakhill said...

Steve Lively's letter was excellent. It was very well written. It was moving. It was a courageous statement. I am proud of Steve. He writes the simple truth. His letter was accurate on every point of public record. His private encounters with GDF, as he recounts them, all have the ring of truth. I am proud to call Steve Lively an alumni. He is a great credit to the school. Would that those who criticize Steve, such as Jack Dunn, could express themselves as well. Steve wrote candidly, forthrightly, honestly and courageously. He pulled no punches. Jack Dunn, however, wrote evasively, sneakily, in glaring generalities and he punched below the belt. He gratuitously slandered Steve, implicitly impugning his character and mental well being, and he did so cravenly and indirectly by putting the slanderous words in the mouths of "several" anonymous classmates.
If GDF, Father Leahy and the Board of Trustees are of one mind; if they have collaborated in and condoned Dunn's demeaning, slanderous, evasive letter; if they condone publicly resorting to ad hominem attacks against alumni who criticize them; if they are blind to GDF's glaring personal and professional failings (GDF is blind to his own failings), then perhaps it's time for us, the "countless" alumni who are fed up with the performance, direction and demeanor of the Athletic Department and Administration, to sweep house.
I support Steve Lively.
Let's put BC grads back in charge of the AD's office; let's put BC grads back in charge of Boston College.

 
At 9:55 PM, Blogger bcoakhill said...

Steve Lively's letter was excellent. It was very well written. It was moving. It was a courageous statement. I am proud of Steve. He writes the simple truth. His letter was accurate on every point of public record. His private encounters with GDF, as he recounts them, all have the ring of truth. I am proud to call Steve Lively an alumni. He is a great credit to the school. Would that those who criticize Steve, such as Jack Dunn, could express themselves as well. Steve wrote candidly, forthrightly, honestly and courageously. He pulled no punches. Jack Dunn, however, wrote evasively, sneakily, in glaring generalities and he punched below the belt. He gratuitously slandered Steve, implicitly impugning his character and mental well being, and he did so cravenly and indirectly by putting the slanderous words in the mouths of "several" anonymous classmates.
If GDF, Father Leahy and the Board of Trustees are of one mind; if they have collaborated in and condoned Dunn's demeaning, slanderous, evasive letter; if they condone publicly resorting to ad hominem attacks against alumni who criticize them; if they are blind to GDF's glaring personal and professional failings (GDF is blind to his own failings), then perhaps it's time for us, the "countless" alumni who are fed up with the performance, direction and demeanor of the Athletic Department and Administration, to sweep house.
I support Steve Lively.
Let's put BC grads back in charge of the AD's office; let's put BC grads back in charge of Boston College.

 
At 10:13 PM, Blogger harrow said...

If people really want to unite as alumni and let the administration know we are unhappy, then we need to reach out to every alumnus through email and social media. As alumni we all have access to every graduates email address online. A simple, to the point email to the Board of Trustees signed by 20,000 alumni would surely wake them up. This is simple to do through an email blast asking individuals for their support. This task could easily be accomplished through dividing up the names and using a blast system. If anyone is interested in doing this, please comment and we can get moving on this.

 
At 10:25 PM, Blogger harrow said...

Doing that coupled with it being mentioned on the blogs and by media members we can contact would cause some waves I think. Furthermore, we could also gather numbers from alumni stating how much they will not donate going forward. I think the total number will raise some eyebrows.

 
At 12:37 AM, Blogger CT said...

I wouldn't go so far as to say, like Mod34b, that Lively's letter is an "embarrassment" to BC, but for rhetorical power it should've been vetted/edited first.

Anyway, the gist is what really matters, and even if he's right on only half of what he says, that's a powerful (and believable) indictment of the current leadership in BC athletics. I'm getting the feeling from the response that the administrators think the "blogosphere" is out of control or nearing that point. Or perhaps a small minority of alums who are overreacting.

Product on the field? Nope.
Tailgating? Nope.
Enthusiasm? Nope.
Sellouts in a 44,500 seat stadium? Nope.

Any relation, you think?

Or maybe it doesn't matter with the TV money coming in.

This isn't like deciphering a JBQ blog post.

These people act like they're the only ones qualified to judge their performance. As if they're performing brain surgery.

I don't think anything is going to substantially change in the foreseeable future, however, GDF is tied to Spaz's upcoming season, b/c if you want to be a big-boy program in a rather weak conference, four years is when your resume comes up for review. You should've already established a solid recruiting foundation. We're not expecting a Saban to cherry-pick who he wants and overpromise (and oversign) the creme de la creme, but there is no more slack in the rope. It's either win or hang. Spaz gets 12 games to salvage what's left. That's it.

Please tell me that the GDF naming rights are a malicious rumor. Pretty please. If it's true, please tell me when he's coming down to Atlanta for an alumni event.

One word: Youtube.

 
At 8:43 AM, Blogger ccw said...

bcoakhill, you must not have done very well in classes for english composition and logic. That letter was horrendous. It was poorly structured and rambling. Frankly, I agree with the BC response of "this dude is crazy".

What correspondence of any value makes lists of 20+ items? My 5 year old could do better than that.

mod34b is right, this letter is a disservice for those of us who want GDF removed. This pathetic missive makes it easy for Gene's supporters to tar all of us with the "crazy" brush.

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger bcoakhill said...

Once again, I say that Steve Lively's letter was excellent: thoughtful, carefully crafted, well written, frank, courageous, powerfully expressive, replete with concrete facts and punctuated with boldly articulated opinions. I found no errors of fact. Not one. And the opinions were firmly grounded in solid facts. He courageously shared personal encounters with the AD, which ring true. I thought as I read, "Steve must have been an English major." Steve made about 100 good points; only two raised the diversity issue and only one concerned the racial stereotyping of Al Skinner. The latter is a matter of public record: Boston Globe columnists published and perpetuated racial stereotypes about Skinner. GDF implied Skinner's teams were lazy and lackluster, didn't hustle, didn't "chase after loose balls." (See GDF's Youtube video on Skinner's firing. Compare that video with the several Youtube videos made two and three years ago by BC student-reporter Kristen Lappas, who interviewed Skinner, Rice and others. Listen to Rice praising the team for hustling and chasing down every loose ball. You can sense the enthusiasm of players, fans and coach, even though Skinner, like Tom O'Brien, was a mild mannered, soft spoken, understated gentlemen. They both were great coaches, accomplished, victorious on the field and on the court, and greatly admired by their players.) Remember, when GDF fired Skinner, three top recruits decommitted, and two players left the team. At the Youtube press conference, one of GDF's complaints was that he wanted a coach who could recruit well. Who was better than Skinner?
Please re-read Steve's letter with an open mind. It is a powerful indictment of the Athletic Department. GDF transformed BC Athletics from a traditional, warm, family oriented environment, welcoming of neighbors, friends and alumni, into what many percieve is an aloof, money grubbing, cold corporate enterprise. GDF hired the Fenway Group, whose main job seems to be to promote and protect GDF.
Long before GDF, BC graduated high percentages of scholar-athletes, like Steve Lively, who are a credit to BC and the community they serve. Long before GDF, BC implemented plans to expand and modernize facilities; long before GDF, BC benefited immensley from the generosity of wealthy BC Alumni and concerned neighbors. GDF can claim no more responsibility for building the new Yawkey Center, than for building the new Stokes Commons. The Yawkey and Stokes families are primarily to be thanked, along with BC's faithful alumni. GDF cannot claim credit for the success of York, Skinner, Ingelese and O'Brien: these were the hires of B.C. AD and alum Chet Gladchuck. Gladchuck had character and class, as did Bill Flynn. They understood the BC ethos. GDF never did get it.
Some final thoughts about BC Traditions: We need a new AD, a BC grad. Long before GDF, BC played football at the national championship level---in the '30s and '40s; under Flutie in the '80s; under Coughlin in the '90s. Under Tom O'Brien, we rose to national prominence again. O'Brien had BC at a ten-win level. When students recently asked GDF what they could expect from the future football program, he replied that hopefully we could win seven or eight games a year. Out of a 12 or 13 game schedule, he's talking 50%-60% seasons. Is that consistent with BC's tradition of "ever to excel"? Was the licensing fee expulsions of thousands of alumni from their basketball and football seats consistent with BC's traditions? Many alumni have a far different view of BC tradtions than the current administration.

 
At 5:21 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Steve Lively is an alumnus. Not an alumni.

 
At 11:15 AM, Blogger JBQ said...

I was able to read the letter from Steve Lively on "Eagle Outsider". Maybe, it should have been edited. However, it was passionate and from the heart. It should be added to the "fund of knowledge". There is no doubt that Coach S is "uncomfortable" with the black players. Coach Jags, from pictures, was very comfortable. Maybe, Spaz is getting the business in straightening out recruiting irregularities. It is hard to tell. However, the situation with LeGrande and Okochoa (maybe misspelled) has not been explained satisfactorily so far. If that could be cleared up, then the racial innuendos would go away. In fact, I am still very uncomfortable with the treatment of Billie Flutie with the apex being his going under the knife for a hamstring tear as diagnosed by staff. When he was opened up on the operating table, the attendant surgeon found no tear. Whatever was left in a season of only holding for extra points went down the tubes.

 

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