Get it in writing

By and

It has only been a year since the U and the Ute American Indian Tribe reached an agreement paving the way for the NCAA to allow the U to keep using the nickname “Utes.”

Things were looking up for the U’s relationship with the tribe, but the tables have suddenly turned.

Now, officials of the tribe have made allegations that the U said that, in exchange for their support of the use of the nickname, the U would provide scholarships to members of the Ute tribe.

Only one scholarship has been awarded, but Fred Esplin-U vice president for university relations-said no commitment was ever made to provide such scholarships and that any talk of scholarships was unrelated to the U’s use of the nickname.

Tribe Education Director Marilyn Hetzel said, “It is time for the University of Utah, who uses that name, to provide more than a few lip-service things here and there.”

Well, lip service is called lip service for a reason: It isn’t worth much of anything. But contracts and public statements-now those are binding.

As grownups, the first thing that we should remember when making a deal that revolves around promised money, large exchanges of property or obligations expected to be fulfilled is that one must get the agreement in writing, otherwise there’s no proof that the agreement ever existed.

Now, because the proper channels weren’t taken between the Ute tribe and the U, this situation has become a case of he said, she said, and no one wins in these types of altercations because there are no obligations involved.

Basically, the argument over whether or not scholarships should be made available for students who are members of the Ute tribe is moot because no one knows what was really promised in exchange for the use of the nickname-it could have been nothing.

Yes, if the agreement did take place, the Ute tribe got cheated out of some educational funds and the dignity that goes along with the proper usage of a tribal name.

But, if the exchange didn’t take place, people will still wonder if the U did make a promise that it didn’t keep.

Either way, no one will ever know because the two parties involved failed to make sure that any agreements that they may or may not have made were solidified in writing.