Athletic glories | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Athletic glories

Posted By on Sun, May 24, 2009 at 7:42 AM

The Democrat-Gazette's Debra Hale-Shelton is back with more shoveling from the UCA stable. Here, it's about the continuing funny business in laying off athletic costs on other university departments to evade state caps on athletic spending.

It is significant, I think, to note that interim President Tom Courtway (powerful legislators' pick to head the state lottery despite an absence of relevant experience) is quoted as defending this continuing sham. Examples: A ball coach is recruiting a few other students in addition to his primary focus on jocks, thus justifying academic departments' picking up some of his pay. The stadium superintendent draws physical plant pay -- from a physical plant whose needs are being beggared by out-of-control pursuit of jock glory.

The bigger sham is the belief that ever-more-expensive, bigger-time athletic pursuits pay untold financial and academic dividends.

As Doug Smith reported for us this week, the NCAA has shown definitively that moving up in athletics, as UCA is doing, simply costs more. It produces little to brag about on the revenue side.

Does it enhance academics? Or do academics enhance academics? UCA benefits from an attractive campus well-situated in the state's biggest metropolitan area. A succession of presidents have poured money and effort into developing a superb honors college that has done a great deal more to attract stronger students than the football team. Free-spending with scholarship money (too free-spending, Ms. Hale-Shelton has demonstrated previously) also played a huge role in boosting enrollment and test scores at UCA.

This notion of big-time sports as the bellcow for university excellence has long been disproven -- except to the blindly faithful of jockdom and their enablers.

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