The author of a book about college crime and athletes getting in big trouble will soon be on the Miami University campus.
Monday, Nov. 15, Ken Armstrong, an investigative reporter for The Seattle Times, will speak at Miami University about his book, Scoreboard, Baby A Story of College Football, Crime, and Complicity, which was written as a result of a four part series he wrote for the Times in 2007.
The genesis of the project involved a rape charge that had been filed against a member of the University of Washington (UW) football team, Jerramy Stevens. The charges were settled outside court.
“It caught my eye because if the university was part of the settlement, we have a right to know,” Armstrong said.
After Armstrong and another reporter began their research on Stevens, more charges against members of the 2000 UW football team emerged. They found a dozen players had been arrested after committing crimes requiring jail time.
Armstrong said one player, Jeremiah Pharms, was accused of robbing and shooting a drug dealer, while another player, Curtis Williams, was jailed for felonious assault in 1997. These men, along with Stevens, became the focus of the series of stories entitled Victory and Ruins, which ran in The Seattle Times in 2008.
Armstrong and Nick Perry did in-depth interviews with players’ families and the woman who accused Stevens of rape to write Scoreboard, Baby.
The book chronicles the myriad violations by players and the lack of disciplinary action taken by Head Coach Rick Neuheisel, the university and the police. None of the athletes’ scholarships were taken away.
Miami President David Hodge was dean of UW’s College of Arts and Science at the time of the controversy, but said he was unaware of any violations at the time. He said reading Armstrong’s account in Scoreboard, Baby was “a most depressing read.” Accountability is key to preventing similar situations at other universities, Hodge said.
“If you don’t have the kind of discipline that goes with that, sooner or later things fall apart,” he said. “You have to have integrity from the ground up.”
Hodge said he learned how to deal with complexity during his time at UW. He said it was important to learn “how to connect and deal with the complexity that comes with that.”
Richard Campbell, director of the Miami journalism program, said Miami has a good perspective on athletics.
“Athletics are important here, but academics are more important,” he said. “I don’t think that’s true other places.”
Campbell taught at the University of Middle Tennessee, where he met Armstrong. When Campbell heard about Scoreboard, Baby, he gave Armstrong a call and invited him to Miami to speak about the book.
Armstrong said an important element of writing this book was to “keep your eye off the ball” to get the larger context of the story. He said this approach “paid dividends” in both Victory and Ruins and Scoreboard, Baby.
Sophomore Kaitlin Schroeder said she is excited to hear Armstrong speak.
“When I hear journalists doing stuff that affects the way people think, it makes me feel inspired,” Schroeder said. “I like to hear about people doing what I’m studying.”