can't teach character

Ever hear of “due diligence?” That’s a term often seen in business stories, particularly when public accountants are working at checking the financial background of companies who might want to buy or sell to one another.
Some people at the University of Georgia apparently don’t understand or use the term “due diligence,” especially when it comes to recruiting football players.

hedges-and-helmetOne group defines “due diligence” in two ways:

1. An investigation or audit of a potential investment. Due diligence serves to confirm all material facts in regards to a sale.
2. Generally, due diligence refers to the care a reasonable person should take before entering into an agreement or a transaction with another party.

That transaction at the University of Georgia that we think needs more “due diligence” is the recruitment of athletes, especially football players. Time and time again we read that Bulldog football players are involved in first one questionable activity after another. Their actions sully the school’s reputation, and also distort the way people think of athletes and our flagship university.

The latest incident to come out of Athens involved four football players who electronically by phone deposited an athletic department check of $71.50 each, then also cashed that paper check. In effect, they were double-dipping on the same instrument.

Of course it is illegal, but why these four young men did not realize that this was unethical behavior is beyond the thinking of most people. It’s downright theft, and nothing less. The fact that they were so naïve to think that they could get away with this unlawful conduct makes a normal person wonder about their intelligence.

This report is not the only incident where there has been questionable conduct from UGA athletes. It makes a person wonder if, indeed, athletic recruiters explore the background of these persons. Do they really exhibit the “care a reasonable person should take before entering into an agreement or a transaction with another party?”

Apparently not. It appears that these recruiters see only the natural athletic prowess of such players, never consider their family background, and probably not their grades, but successfully sign these players…..and pray for the best. That’s not due diligence.

One former athlete put it this way to us: “Wonder what kind of ‘expenses’ these clowns could possibly have? And, let me tell you, those athletes eat well! I worked in their cafeteria when I was at UGA and on the swimming team. And, yes, we got to eat the same fare!”

Of course, such unruly conduct by athletes is not limited to the University of Georgia. It’s nearing a national problem. Yet there are people asking more questions about the University of Georgia recruiting. A column from the Savannah Morning News Sports Editor Anthony Stastny on March 22 spoke to the recent UGA athletic incident. At one point he said of the UGA football team players: “Georgia has had more suspensions than the Tour de France.” He ended up with these words: “Coaches can’t legislate honesty or teach character. But they can recruit for it.”

The entire National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) faces more and more problems. This organization professes it wants to do right, but incidents keep multiplying. Recruiting of a football player is an “investigation of a potential investment.” Utilizing the accounting profession’s “due diligence” should be one route all NCAA schools should take.

This article originally appeared at Gwinnett Forum. Image: “hedges and helmet” by popofatticus via his flickr photo stream and used under a creative commons license.
Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County,, and Georgia news,