Why Lou Anna Simon Should NOT Be The Next NCAA President

lou anna simonIn 2012,  I raised the issue of artificially generated stampedes with every NCAA Division I university president and chancellor.  I received a total of 26 written responses.  An overview of that correspondence can be found here.  Michigan State University President, Lou Anna Simon, chose NOT to respond.  This was certainly her prerogative.

On August 13, 2013, I sent an email with the following content to NCAA Division I leadership.

In 2012, I sent you multiple letters regarding outdated emergency stadium evacuation protocol.

Stadium attendees have a fundamental right to know that a legitimate evacuation order would NEVER originate from their cell phone or mobile device.  Such an action would almost certainly be an attempt to induce widespread panic and create an artificially generated stampede.  This transformative issue has still not been addressed by the NCAA, the NFL and the federal government.

I implore you to take a moment and review the content of this website.

http://agsaf.org

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me immediately.
Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully,

Eric Saferstein
45 Ridgewood Avenue
Wheeling, WV  26003

email: info@agsaf.org
cell: 304-312-1395

I received informative responses from the following institutions: University of Notre Dame, University of Minnesota, University of Southern California, University of North Texas, University of Houston, Rutgers University, Wake Forest University, Georgia Tech and The Ohio State University.  I also received a reply from the University of Miami.  If you wish to read any of the above correspondence, please contact me.

In addition, on August 30, 2013, I received an unsolicited response from NCAA representative Janice Whitehead.

REPLY ON BEHALF OF NCAA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE CHAIR LOU ANNA SIMON

Dear Mr. Saferstein:

Thank you for your email. The NCAA takes security issues seriously, and the safety of our student-athletes and fans is of the utmost importance.  We will share your materials with our security experts for further review.

—–Original Message—–

From: info@agsaf.org<mailto:info@agsaf.org>                     [mailto:info@agsaf.org]

Sent: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 10:15 AM

To: presmail@msu.edu<mailto:presmail@msu.edu>

Subject: stadium security

President Simon,

 

Stadium attendees have a fundamental right to know that a legitimate evacuation order would NEVER originate from their cell phone or mobile device.  Such an action would almost certainly be an attempt to induce widespread panic and create an artificially generated stampede.  This transformative issue has still not been addressed by the NCAA, the NFL and the federal government.

I implore you to take a moment and review the content of this website.

http://agsaf.org

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me immediately.
Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully,

Eric Saferstein
45 Ridgewood Avenue
Wheeling, WV  26003

email: info@agsaf.org
cell: 304-312-1395

As you can see in her response, the opening sentence from my initial email was deleted.  This sentence was crucial because it offered vital context and information.  It’s my contention that President Simon chose to intentionally delete this sentence.

This is very disturbing for three distinct reasons:

  • In the event of an actual stadium stampede, it’s a meager, premeditated attempt to assume a position of plausible deniability and purposely lessen future culpability.
  • The prospect of an artificially generated stampede is a matter of national security. Failing to respond in her capacity as President of Michigan State University demonstrates an inability to address a serious issue and one in which there could be a foreseeable conflict of interests.
  • It demonstrates either a lack of situational awareness or an exceptional degree of naivete.  Surely President Simon was aware that an identical email was sent to over a hundred of her peers.  For her to knowingly alter such correspondence, or for that matter any correspondence, constitutes a reckless decision.

It is possible that President Simon is completely innocent of this accusation.  It is conceivable that Janice Whitehead, who authored the response, sensed that information contained within the original email could be damaging to Simon’s current standing or future career aspirations.  And therefore, Janice Whitehead knowingly altered it of her own volition.  But this scenario seems highly unlikely.

The President of the NCAA wields enormous power and influence.  If NCAA Executive Committee Chair Lou Anna Simon has any intention of seeking this particular leadership role, the concerns I’ve raised call for an immediate explanation or at the very least, a greater level of clarity.

If you can shed any light on this matter, please contact NCAA President Mark Emmert.