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University PR Type Gets Caught in a Blatant Lie

By       Message Roger Shuler     Permalink
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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

Most universities have honor codes that govern academic-integrity issues. Some require students to take courses in ethics.

So you might think that university officials would have no problem speaking honestly to the public. But you would be wrong, especially if you are talking about any of the three campuses in the University of Alabama System.

We already have written about leaders at the UA campus in Birmingham (UAB) and their problems with the truth regarding my unlawful termination. Now we have a PR person from the "mother campus" in Tuscaloosa getting nailed in a flat-out lie. And it involves the most important subject in Alabama--college football.

It all stems from last week's Iron Bowl game between Alabama and arch-rival Auburn, won by Auburn in a stirring comeback, 28-27. Going into the game, the state was aflutter with news about star Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and the possibility that Newton's father, a minister, had sought major dollars from schools hoping to sign his multi-talented son.

When Auburn took the field for pre-game warmups at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, the PA system featured some curious song selections. One was the Steve Miller Band classic, "Take the Money and Run." Another was "Son of a Preacher Man," which has been covered by numerous artists, perhaps most famously by Dusty Springfield. The references to the Cam Newton story were none too subtle.

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A reporter wrote about the taunting songs, and Alabama officials reacted with righteous indignation. An unnamed part-time employee was solely responsible, university spokesperson Deborah Lane said in a statement, and he had been summarily fired. No one in UA officialdom was involved in the tasteless prank. Reported Kevin Scarbinsky, of The Birmingham News:

"Our processes require that all music and videos played in the stadium prior to and during every game be carefully scripted and approved by a senior administrator in the athletics department," Alabama public relations director Deborah Lane said in a statement.

"The former staff member deviated from the script that had been approved for the game with Auburn, and the university took steps to immediately terminate his contract."

Lane then really laid it on thick:

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"The University of Alabama takes great pride in our football team's long-standing tradition of playing the game with dignity and class, and showing respect for players and coaches of opposing teams. We are disappointed when the actions of any staff member undermined our deeply held values and expectations."

Those are high-minded words from Ms. Lane. But there is one problem--they aren't true.

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)

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