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Seth: Disgraceful lack of transparency by Miss St. in Cannizaro resignation

Seth Dunlap
February 22, 2018 - 3:51 pm

College athletics is a dirty business.   

Devious recruiting tactics, pay-for-play schemes, sex scandals - stories that seemed ripped right out of a Game of Thrones script are commonplace across the NCAA.  Heck, in a few weeks we're likely to see the structure of college basketball torn apart at the seams by a large scale FBI investigation, just in time for March Madness. 

Sometimes, however, the filth hits closer to home.   Earlier this week fans were blindsided by the abrupt resignation of Mississippi State baseball coach Andy Cannizaro, who had just coached the Bulldogs in their season opening series over the weekend.  The resignation was shocking in it's swiftness, but also for the lack transparency by MSU.  

There was no official reason given for Cannizaro's resignation.  Social media was set ablaze the night before when reports first surfaced that the university was going to fire him "for cause", and the rumor mill started swirling.

Full disclosure, I received multiple text messages from sources in and around MSU that night describing what is now being reported elsewhere, that Cannizaro was involved in an extra marital affair that led to his resignation.   The story seemed plausible, and frankly not that surprising.   Countless college coaches have been caught up in this type of nonsense before, many of whom were employed at a more prestigious university and in a more visible college sport than baseball.

What is still highly concerning to me, two days after the resignation, is the silence by Mississippi State University and their officials.   There's be no official reason giving for the abrupt resignation, and let's remember it was a resignation only in name as the school had decided to fire Cannizaro the night before had he not resigned.   Nothing from Athletic Director John Cohen.  Not a peep from MSU President Mark E. Keenum.

This is an unacceptable and disgraceful display of lack of transparency at a public university.  

Let's remember that Andy Cannizaro was a public employee who was paid a reported $533,000 a year to coach baseball.  That's more than four times what Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant makes annually ($122,160).   We certainly expect transparency and accountability out of our public institutions, servants, and employees.

The public deserves to know the full story of what happened with Cannizaro, and what happened to one of the states most highly paid employees.  This attitude by Cohen, Keenum, and others of just hiding until the storm blows over is completely bogus.  They should have already answered our questions and a press conference and done away with the secrecy.

I'm not high atop the moral crusade train here.  Cannizaro, if the reports are accurate, is an adulterer.  As are countless men and women across our society.  It's not appropriate, but it's also relatively common.  This isn't Joe Paterno or Rick Pitino here.   At least we don't think so.  

That's the problem with all of this.  We are left to speculate about "what was really going on".  Did the university really fire Cannizaro after one affair with a fellow consenting adult, or was there more to this story than we currently know?  Was there harassment or abuse involved?  Was it more than just one time or one person?

Cannizaro's reported actions were concerning, and not fit for a powerful man in charge of one of the state's premier, and most visible, sports programs.  However, it's equally concerning that unversity officials have acted with a complete lack of integrity and honesty about the situation..  They should stop with the outrageous secrecy and come out with an open and honest conversation about what happened.  We all deserve that.



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