(I bounced that off of Marcum, who taught a sports business class at the University of Kentucky this semester. He had no comment.)
Ridpath details the events of the Marshall scandal as he sees them, giving the reader a rare glimpse into high-level university deliberations. Among other things, he tells about the otherwise piddling incident concerning "Prop 48" athletes working a one-night job for ESPN during its telecast of a home football game, and how it intertwined with the larger "jobs-for-props" program at a business owned by booster Marshall Reynolds.
He chronicles - and roundly blasts - the NCAA infractions process, from investigation to hearing before the Committee on Infractions. I have heard totalitarian states have better due process than the NCAA, and Ridpath would agree.
He tells about the aggressiveness of NCAA investigators, who even "harassed" MU students who weren't part of the athletic program (huh?). He also tells of one infractions committee member, University of Miami athletic director Paul Dee, dozing off during MU's hearing.
Ridpath tells how he tried to defend the university, and how poorly it played with panel members. He tells how Marshall's hired attorney, Rich Hilliard, fell largely silent during the proceedings.
As he alleges in his subsequent lawsuit, Ridpath was "offered as a sacrifice" in the university's attempt to mitigate the inevitable sanctions. He was reassigned out of the athletic department, a move the school reported to the NCAA as a self-imposed corrective action.
As Ridpath illustrates, that effectively ended his career as a compliance director. And it triggered his 2002 federal lawsuit (amended and re-filed in 2003) against the school, president Dan Angel, Hilliard, vice president for executive affairs and general counsel Layton Cottrill, senior vice president of operations Edward Grose and Pruett.
The case took much longer than it should have - for instance, it spanned nearly all of Marcum's seven-year tenure as Marshall AD, several plaintiff's lawyers and two judges. In February 2009, on the eve of the trial date and just before football's National Signing Day, a settlement was announced.
Based on depositions made public, a trial would have been a bloodbath. Marshall officials, mostly not the same Marshall officials of the late 1990s and early 2000s, had little reason to fool with it, in my opinion. The settlement was overdue.
Ridpath's relationship with fellow administrators and his performance before the Committee on Infractions would have been part of the defense, and he admits some of his less-than-stellar behavior. He tells about his explosions toward Crane, and recounts his threat-laced email to former protégé David Reed, the Beckley native who returned to run the MU compliance program before heading to Miami.
The email became public, embarrassing Ridpath. To his credit, he repeats one of the more infamous passages: "[I]f you try to protect your sorry ass useless, piece of [expletive] alma mater [meaning MU] that you couldn't even graduate from then you will hear from me."
After Ridpath sued and the case sat in the federal court system, he refined his PR methods and became a well-used source. CBSports.com became the most sympathetic media outlet, so much so that senior editor Tony Moss reviewed, edited and enhanced the manuscript of Tainted Glory.
As he took a professor job at Mississippi State and then his current position at Ohio University, his status as a martyr in college athletics mushroomed. He has sound ideas on reform, put forth in a "postscript" chapter, but at times you would think Ridpath was America's only source on the subject.
That's one of several reasons I say Ridpath won his suit against Marshall and Pruett, something Ridpath himself doesn't say. He says he received $232,000 in settlements with all defendants, "which barely covered my bills and nowhere near compensated me for the anguish my family and I went through, or the injury to my career." He also won a much-desired letter of clarification to the NCAA stating he was not responsible for major infractions listed in the 2001 report.
Marshall insisted on a "no-crow" clause, which to me is an admission of defeat. That fell well short of a non-disclosure clause, and certainly did not prevent publication of Tainted Glory.
There were several losers. When Pruett was deposed, he told of coaching opportunities lost because of the scandal. He spent a year as Al Groh's defensive coordinator at Virginia, but once faced the possibility of having to testify during a game week.
Reynolds, a walking NCAA violation, was ordered disassociated from MU athletics for five years and lost his skybox in the process. It seems he has caused the university more grief than any contributions can overcome.
Angel was pushed out of the MU presidency, in part by forces who somehow thought Reynolds could be (or should be) reinstated by the NCAA. Angel was president at tiny Golden Gate University in San Francisco when he was deposed. (Ridpath had great pleasure when, during his doctoral ceremony, he made Angel look him in the eye).
The MU football program's loss of scholarships hit hardest several years after the NCAA's 2001 levying of sanctions, as has been the case at other schools. Mark Snyder wasn't exactly Woody Hayes in head coaching acumen, but the smaller recruiting classes of 2002, 2003 and 2004 hampered him.
The university's name was dragged through the mud, deservedly to some degree. Ridpath continues that process with this book, and certainly will refer to his bad experiences at MU for years to come.
He claims no bitterness, expressing praise for current MU athletic director Mike Hamrick. From what I know, he did nothing to dissuade two current MU officials who came to Huntington from Ohio University.
But make no mistake: Ridpath knows he scored a touchdown over the Thundering Herd. And with Tainted Glory, he dunks the ball over the crossbar.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com, or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.