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Of football and finances

This past week, Boulder's Daily Camera had numerous articles about Division I football and university financing. Once again I am asking myself, 'What is wrong with this picture?'

A few examples:

  • At CU-Boulder, the proposed $50 million initiative to upgrade the intercollegiate sports facilities and programs in order to be more competitive
  • Elsewhere in college football, three position coaches signing contracts for over $300,000 per year, an offensive coordinator signing for $750,000 per year and one of the top paid coaches in the country getting a $1 million raise on top of his multimillion-dollar annual salary
  • Elimination of CU's critical thinking requirement in order to save $200,000. (I will say that I tend to agree with those who point out that critical thinking should be a part of all university courses.)
  • And tangentially related, the CU-Boulder chancellor meeting with a top football recruit. (Hopefully the chancellor also meets with every person being recruited for a teaching and/or research position on campus.)

Although I certainly enjoy intercollegiate athletic competition, I believe that the entire enterprise has gotten out of hand. I realize that President Benson will not suggest to all of the other D-I presidents that the programs be eliminated. But I would suggest that there ought to be drastic actions taken to control activities that are secondary to the fundamental mission of universities.

My recommendation: Put the coaching staff on the same pay scale as professors, with position coaches being assistant level, offensive and defensive coordinators at associate level, and the head coach at professor. Head coaches could perhaps move to Distinguished or University professor level if they bring home a national championship or two: I am thinking of coaches like Marv Dunphy, head men's volleyball coach at Pepperdine (3,000 undergraduate students, 12 NCAA finals and four NCAA national championships). And perhaps the university should pay more attention to recruiting top scholars than top athletes.

Douglas Swartzendruber
Professor Emeritus of Biology, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

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