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Modern David & Goliath

April 6, 2013

The story of the Rutgers men’s basketball coach and his assistant are well-known stories at this point. Their overall demeaning and assaulting treatment of their players shocked and disgusted all who have watched the video replays on television. While this story is huge now, it will eventually fade into memory. Before it does, an examination must be made so critical lessons are not missed.

This story is a story of ethics and institutional priorities. As the news story broke this week, people were incensed the head coach was only given a light suspension, a fine, and mandatory sensitivity training. This is for a man who had been video recorded assaulting his players. As for the assistant coach, ESPN reported he received ‘a talking to.’ This was all from an Athletic Director who was exalted by the University for getting Rutgers into Big 10 athletics, which will net the university a ridiculous amount of money.

This is a story of David and Goliath. While the coach, assistant coach, and the athletic director names will be remembered, the brave soul who broke the story seems to be nothing more than a footnote at this point. A sensational story sells, whereas a story about a good person does not sell nearly as well. So who is playing the role of “David” here? His name is Eric Murdock. This man needs to be the center focus of the story, as he most likely will be as he has filed a Whistle Blower Lawsuit against Rutgers for wrongful termination, according to NPR.

Murdock took the information of the abuse and reported it to the athletic director. Shortly thereafter he was fired for being insubordinate. Most people would have let it go there. Not Eric Murdock. He then submitted video evidence to the university which included hours of video evidence showing the assaults to the players by the head coach. Murdock did a bold, brave, and ethical thing and pursued this to the end at great cost to him.

This is a story of public accountability, or a lack thereof. Our greatest institutions, whether it be educational institutions at any level, governmental institutions, or religious institutions are in dire need of accountability lest they continue to pedal a relativistic mantra which tills the soil for these situations to occur. Just this week alone one coach fired, one resigned, an athletic director removed and a Big 12 Conference head referee resign. In addition to that, there is another college football program under scrutiny for possibly grade tampering and paying players to stay in school. There is a lack of public oversight and misguided priorities which have led to these situations. While I am a sports nut, there is no reason for any athletic department to go unmonitored because they are money makers and bring prestige to the university.

Lest the church waggle their fingers at the academia and political entities, we must be aware these same things can, and have happened, in our churches when the congregation is not involved in the oversight of the church. Each denomination has different ways of doing this, but the simple fact is each believer needs to be ready to stand up and report wrongs when they are identified. To fail to do this is not only to fail a church, but also The Church. This failure can then also disqualify the church from speaking truth to the world lest we be branded hypocrites. A wrong is a wrong, and it must be addressed.

Some may have noticed the only name I have mentioned here is Eric Murdock. That is intentional. Those who have committed the wrongs have been front and center in the media all week. I have chosen to name the one who did right, at risk to himself. If Rutgers is wise, they will quickly and very graciously settle with Mr. Murdock out of court. Remember, wrong is wrong and must be addressed. If it was easy, everyone would do it. Today, pray for the courage to stand up for the least of these. Be a “David” when you witness something wrong, no matter where it is.

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