Friday, February 17, 2012

The Crisis at TCU

Texas Christian University has an outstanding reputation for integrity, both in the classroom and on the athletic field. That’s as it should be for an elite institution with religious roots.

Its excellent image has been sorely tested by this week’s arrest of 18 students, including four players on the Horned Frog football team, for drug dealing. The arrests threw TCU into a classic crisis communications scenario.

Nefarious doings on campus, involving athletes in particular, have been an all-too-common stories in recent years. And in many cases, the respective scholastic institutions have done a poor job responding when things went bad.

TCU may be different. It’s receiving “deserved praise” from the media for getting in front of the story and explaining what it has done, and what it will do, to assure this won’t happen again. An early-on press conference allowed college officials to answer questions, not just read canned statements blessed in advance by the lawyers. Now, football Coach Gary Patterson’s personally on the phone with parents and other interested parties.

It ain’t over 'til it's over for the Horned Frogs, but TCU may come out of this crisis with its reputation intact. The school’s been responsive and transparent – vital points in making a crisis response successful.

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