Thursday, April 11, 2013

Business Ethics? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Business Ethics!

Notre Dame has cancelled a football game that they are scheduled to play with Arizona State.

Not a big deal except for a few factors:
  • They signed a contract.
  • They didn’t call ASU and say, “Hey, we’d like to cancel the game, can we work out an arrangement?” Instead they just unilaterally cancelled in a press release.
  • They signed a contract
  • They didn’t do this several years in advance, in line with the way college games are scheduled. This is a game for the 2014 season – ASU is unlikely to be able to find any sort of decent replacement on what is very short notice for scheduling.
  • They signed a contract.
Now there’s certainly no need to remind me that college football is a business, and that Notre Dame has good reasons (their new deal with the ACC) to want out of the game. But …

… they signed a contract.

Ethical business people do not break contracts. If new circumstances arise that put them in a bind regarding the contract, they call their counterparts and try to work something out. Does Notre Dame not feel obliged to meet the most minimal standards of the world of commerce?

I will put aside any naïve comments about Notre Dame perhaps feeling that their role as the best-known Catholic institution in the US imposes any constraints upon them to act in a more ethical manner than the Wall Streeters their professors no doubt condemn quite regularly.

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