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Moral Turpitude

The head coach of the Michigan State University football team has been suspended without pay. A sexual harassment claim was filed against him by a vendor who does motivational speaking for victims of sexual abuse. The incident occurred in December 22 and a formal hearing will take place in October. This will likely be the end of Tucker's football career with Michigan State University, who would have paid him $80 million dollars. If he is found in violation of the Moral Turpitude clause in his contract, he will lose the remainder of the money owed to him.


What was he thinking?


I will not share the gross details of this incident; however, the fact that he admitted it has alarmed many people. Coaches, players, families of players, staff, students, all of who placed trust in this man. This is a bad look for the football program, and the university, especially since the athletic program was under intense scrutiny after the Larry Nassar scandal. Dr. Nassar was found guilty of sexual abuse of multiple women in the school's gymnastics program, as well as Olympic athletes.


People in leadership are constantly under scrutiny. The microscope looks for any detail of impropriety. They are judged harshly and critically, often without merit. Every word and and deed of leaders comes under fire and any act of indecency or inappropriate behavior is made public. Their reputations, business and family relationships may be destroyed by one deliberate or innocent mistake. The domino effect of such mistakes is long lasting and often irreparable. Leaders must be prescient of the outcomes of their choices.


Coach Tucker's actions will cause some players to transfer to other schools. It will cause other coaches to come under investigation who may have known about the incident. It will create a morale issue among current players. It will place a football program, already in a rebuilding state, to face the mental anguish of being in the news. The players will be distracted and perhaps unmotivated to play for this university, even though they are on scholarships. It will cause parents to question whether or not to send their daughters, grand-daughters, and nieces to this school which has a national ranking of 25 among the top academic schools in the country. This due to one man's indiscretion, ignoring his role as a mentor, father-figure, and leader of men and women in his program.


I have often written blogs about the importance of character and integrity in leaders. it is lonely at the top because hovering near the bottom provides too many temptations to resist. It is better to know your vulnerabilities and isolate yourself, rather than deceive yourself into believing you have overcome the vices that have historically destroyed you. Whether you like it or not, believe it or not, or think it fitting, people look up to their leaders. They expect them to be sound in judgement and make good choices they can mirror in their personal and professional lives. People, like children, learn by seeing, not hearing and every move you make may determine the quality of life someone chooses for themselves. It may not be fair to carry such a burden, but it is what it is.


If you are in a position of leadership or authority, a mother, father, husband, wife, president, CEO, or director; your words and actions are being observed every day. Someone is watching and waiting for you to be inconsistent. Guard your name, your word, your reputation. You don't possess anything more valuable.


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