"[S]ix more Vanderbilt athletes are [reportedly] under investigation," notes SB Nation. This would be in addition to the four who've already been kicked off the football team in connection with the same investigation. Whether four or ten players, "it now looks like whatever happened was likely very horrific, and it looks like the damage to Vanderbilt's reputation could be immense."
Yet what do we mean by reputation? What is reputation, and how does having a crime-ridden football or basketball program damage it? President Obama routinely honors spectacularly scuzzy game-winning schools at the White House. He may have nice things to say in general about the importance of educating Americans, but he's perfectly happy to parade as exemplary Auburn, a university whose life blood has been academic fraud.
It's quite possible, in other words, that Vanderbilt will thrive, reputationally, as a result of this ongoing event in its history. Enormous attention will be drawn to the university; it will soon perhaps be seen as a really major sports player - something it hasn't yet achieved. Until now, the educational seriousness of Vanderbilt has in various ways stayed its hand as it tried to fashion itself a true SEC school. With this latest scandal, Vanderbilt has moved decisively toward its destiny.
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