What the hell, OSU?

Jim Jordan is an extreme right wing Republican (redundant, I know) congressman from Ohio who has shown himself to be a true and loyal Trumper. He has now been accused by multiple people that when he was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University, he ignored rampant sexual abuse and harassment that included, but was not limited to, the wrestling team’s doctor who routinely molested the wrestlers, requiring them undress and fondling their genitals even if they came for something like a sprained thumb.

Multiple former wrestlers have accused Jordan, a National Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee, of being among the faculty members who turned a blind eye to inappropriate behavior by the late Richard Strauss, the university’s former athletic doctor. Strauss allegedly preyed on male students during physicals, groping them to the point of making them ejaculate, according to one nurse who witnessed it and recounted the story in a video produced by alleged victims and obtained by POLITICO.

Ohio State has launched an investigation into Strauss’ behavior. Strauss worked at the university from 1978 to 1998. He killed himself in 2005.

The article describes activities that are so gross and egregious that it is incredible that a staff member of the wrestling team would not know about them.

A half-dozen ex-wrestlers told POLITICO they were regularly harassed in their training facility by sexually aggressive men who attended the university or worked there. The voyeurs would masturbate while watching the wrestlers shower or sit in the sauna, or engage in sexual acts in the areas where the athletes trained, the former wrestlers said.

Larkins Hall, the building that housed athletic teams, became such a well-known target that people who frequented it at the time have reminisced in anonymous postings online how easy it was to ogle naked members of the wrestling team.

The situation was so egregious that former wrestling head coach Russ Hellickson would at times have to physically drag the gawkers out of the building, several sources familiar with his actions at the time said. Hellickson also pleaded with the university multiple times to move their athletes to a private facility, the sources said. Jordan served as Hellickson’s No. 2, and the coach has been described as Jordan’s mentor.

The accusations could exacerbate Jordan’s troubles. He was the wrestling team’s assistant coach from 1986 to 1994 and has adamantly denied knowledge of any sexual abuse.

One former wrestler told POLITICO he saw Jordan yell at male voyeurs to get out of the sauna, though Jordan’s office refuted this account. Even three wrestlers who defended Jordan said it would have been impossible for him not to notice the pervasive toxic atmosphere surrounding the team.

When it is common knowledge that people can some in off the streets and watch athletes in the showers, how could the university not have known about this kind of behavior and taken action to stop it? The university has launched an inquiry in the events.

Jordan has vehemently denied any knowledge whatsoever of the abuse but has used the carefully parsed language that usually means that he is preparing a legalistic defense, distinguishing between the Trumpian excuse of ‘locker room talk’ that and the more formal ‘reports of abuse’.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R), hit with multiple accusations that he knew about but failed to take action against a sexual abuser, just gave a hyper-aggressive interview to Fox News’ Bret Baier. First, this wasn’t your standard Hannity/Tucker-style Fox interview. Baier wasn’t antagonistic but he was deliberate and focused and pressed Jordan on the key points. Jordan attacked his accusers, particularly the first one who came forward, Mike DeSabato. But what was most revealing is that Jordan repeatedly fell back on the distinction between ‘locker room talk’ and formal accusations. “Conversations in a locker room are a lot different than allegations of abuse or reported abuse to us,” Jordan told Baier.

This seemed to me as much as an admission since the kind of ‘everybody knew’ locker room talk is exactly what Jordan’s accusers say happened. Baier focused in on this and asked Jordan whether he heard things in locker room conversations, even things that may have not seemed like abuse twenty years ago but do today.

Jordan denied it but then repeatedly came back to the same ‘locker room talk’/formal accusation distinction.

Jordan is known for self-righteously and sanctimoniously lecturing other people on their responsibility for actions that they may have only been marginally involved in or known about. His own wordsare now being used against him.


  1. says

    @Marcus Ranum, No. 1 Because, particularly in Ohio State’s case, they make a shit load of cash from workers they don’t have to pay.

  2. says

    @hyphenman, # 2, According to a study I saw several years back, once you take into account the physical plant required to support college sports, very few institutions make money off of it. It’s mostly creative accounting. Basically, they add up ticket sales and other sources of income, and balance that against the obvious costs of the sports programs. Bingo, everything looks great so long as you don’t include the cost of little things like a stadium, or more importantly, what other things you could do with those funds (I dunno, maybe enhance educational facilities or increase the number of full-time tenure track positions instead of relying on an army of woefully underpaid adjuncts).

    I think that any institution that pumps huge amounts of money into sports programs is not a school worth attending (and let’s forget all of the swill about “boosterism” and “goodwill” for the alumni). As the saying goes “Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value”. It’s all about priorities. Does the admin want high profile or the best possible educational experience? For example, no one goes to an Ivy League school because they have a great football or basketball team. In contrast, just down the road from us is Syracuse University. The four highest paid individuals at that institution are (in order) the basketball coach, the football coach, the college president and the athletic director. That tells me a lot about what that institution values.

  3. says

    @jimf, No. 3

    That’s true, you’re absolutely correct. For most schools.

    Most schools don’t get tremendously lucrative television contracts.

    Most schools don’t pay their head coaches seven figure salaries.

    Most schools don’t rake in enough money to pay for the entire rest of the athletic programs.

    Most schools don’t collect more in licensing agreements—see The Ohio State University—than most schools collect in tuition.

    Ohio State Univeristy (I refuse to add the The) is not like most school. The schools in the rarefied atmosphere of Big 10/Pac 8—I know, I’m dating myself—and a few cases like Syracuse are different. As Mary Colum said, “The rich have more money.”

    My central point is that the NCAA collapses if players are paid what they’re worth to the school.

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