published in Marketing
Educator, vol. 16 (Summer 1997), p.2
SCHOLA GRATIA DOCTRINAE
A long-time friend served as President of his university's faculty and
was amazed at what engendered the strongest faculty response. Within a
day after the faculty were shorted on their allocation of football
he received more e-mail, voice-mail and other calls than on any other
including core curriculum changes, alterations of retirement benefits
a new campus parking plan. He feared that some faculty believe that his
school is only a sports franchise that runs a university to retain its
eligibility for the college conference. Working for the teams, the
see tickets as their most important employee benefit.
Herbert Jack Rotfeld
Auburn University, Alabama
Of course, his fears are quite silly. Everyone knows that universities
have sports programs as student activities. After all, think what the
world would be like if the primary activity for universities was sports
instead of education....
Young athletes would first be recruited and accepted for the teams and
"apply" for admission to the school instead of going to school and
out for the teams. And, of course, the basis by which athletes would
and be accepted to school would bypass some common concerns for
ability. Some young men and women might first get accepted as students
and then try to join the teams, but labeled "walk-ons," they would face
derision and low expectations.
At some schools, athletes would receive academic credit for
in their sports. While tutors would be hired to help the important team
members pass courses, no one recruited as a student would receive
training to help him or her succeed in athletics. Faculty would also be
frequently asked about academic performance of athletes in their
so that those with problems can be spotted and helped, though no such
aid would go to full-time students.
Athletes would have special permits so they could park their cars
they desire, sometimes taking spaces reserved for faculty, while
would be relegated to special lots at the periphery of campus.
Academic requirements such as exams, student presentations or term
due dates would work around important athletic events. Evening
games would be considered valid reasons for not preparing for class the
next day; no faculty member would dare give an exam the Monday after
homecoming or after an away game with a gridiron rival. During the
season, a special televised Thursday night game would supersede
ability to seriously conduct class the latter half of the week. (And
if they wanted to, no one could find a parking space within walking
of the classroom that day, anyway.)
Graduates would exist to provide team boosters, with the hope that
some of those boosters would donate money to the school as well as the
teams. Schools' athletic associations would run their own fund raising
efforts, keeping revenue from tickets or televised games (or their own
donations from alumni) away from the academic needs of the university.
The highest salaries on campus would go to the coaches; during hiring
salary freezes, pay raises might still go to the athletic director,
and their staffs. When budgets are tight and academic programs are
cut, alumni would focus their discussions on whether a losing coach
be fired. A college president, wanting a better contract, would inform
the board of trustees that he or she should get a multi-year, no-cut
dollar contract just like the basketball or football coaches, instead
those meager yearly administrator arrangements given to the tenured
who are deans or department heads.
But this is all speculation.
When a person meets a faculty member at a major university, the
centers the quality of students, not sports. When discussing "top" or
comparable groups of schools, no one makes reference to "Big
10," "SEC" or other names that only refer to athletic conferences. No
thinks Penn State became a better school by joining the Big 10.
We all know that the purpose of schools is education, not athletics,
and it is really hard to imagine a school whose income, pride and goal
was from basketball, football and other athletic teams, not the
it provides. Fortunately, these problems are only a daydream. . . but
at some schools, it might be a nightmare.