Oien’s actions merit careful consideration


The SDSU community got a bit of a shock this week with news that its athletic director, Fred Oien, a man seen countless times in recent months touting the benefits of DI and the university’s readiness to step up into the big leagues, was in court dealing with charges surrounding an accusation of physical abuse.

As the week progressed, more and more details began to power the Eastern South Dakota rumor mill. News agencies in the area began reporting information that painted an increasingly bleak picture for the administrator.

But it is important for all those involved in what the Argus Leader overdramatizes as the “Trouble at SDSU” to remember a few things.

First, the man has not been convicted. While charges of the nature of those filed against Oien are to be taken seriously, many seem ready to convict the athletic director on the basis of only those papers filed against him.

Though it is true that, if the charges against Oien are found to be true, he should be punished to the full extent of the law, let’s not punish him before he even sets foot in a trial courtroom.

Additionally, the silent treatment is not the best way for the university to handle what can safely be called a public relations nightmare. The constant hum of “No comment” emanating from the administration is not only frustrating for the media, but also for the employee that has a reasonable right to expect his employer to back him until given clear reason not to.

It also leads news agencies to seek information elsewhere. SDSU should desire control of the news on this issue, and control cannot be gained by refusing to be involved in the media coverage.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is necessary to remember that, whether or not Oien is found to have violated a legal or moral standard, the problem does not chiefly belong to SDSU.

Rather, it belongs first and foremost to Fred Oien, the man, not Fred Oien the administrative official or the face of the university’s DI move.

This surprise news item, though tragic whatever the result, ought not be allowed to tarnish an entire university or its efforts at advancement.

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