“[F]ootball is losing its appeal. People realize it is a gladiator sport that pits young men in violent combat and leaves many of them gravely injured, just for our idle entertainment. Future generations will wonder how we were seduced into making this expensive spectacle a marketing tool for an educational institution. Football is both financially unsustainable and morally indefensible.”

A local letter writer in Fort Collins Colorado rails against that school’s decision to build a new football stadium. Yet UD wonders whether moral revulsion will really be what brings the college game down.

People seem to like watching hulks hurt each other. The younger the better.

I think it’s more likely that a simple, irreversible shift in techno-preferences will do the trick. The whole “being there” thing just isn’t working for people anymore. Showing up isn’t in the cards; watching at home while fiddling with social media is the new deal. With social media you create your own big viewing party, down your own liquor, avoid driving in heavy traffic and negotiating foul drunks and sitting in hard bleachers and enduring long vast shrieking ads on Adzillatrons, etc., etc. Nothing can compete with the capacity to control your own environment.

“Either the chancellor doesn’t understand plagiarism, or it was intentional.”

The local paper and some faculty and students at the University of Nevada Las Vegas are trying to attract some general attention to the state’s latest education-related embarrassment:

[T]he agency that oversees higher education in the state lifted large parts of an early draft of a think tank’s report word-for-word…

Their complaint features the Nevada System of Higher Education chancellor because he’s the one who should have humbly acknowledged when the story broke that his organization acted hastily in using another person’s writing (the writing seems to have been circulated in a routine, not-for-quotation, preliminary way), especially in the context of competitive bidding for state funds.

Plus, news-cycle-wise, it’s less than optimal that only a few weeks ago the system’s highest-profile university – UNLV – barely managed to fire a highly esteemed and compensated professor who has been plagiarizing pretty much everything he writes for about thirty years. The plagiarism was pretty well known… pretty well documented… but until the Chronicle of Higher Education began using a yellow highlighter on this guy, UNLV dragged its ass.. And even then, a member of the reviewing committee argued that he shouldn’t be fired!

Throw into the Nevada higher education mix that the only thing you consistently hear about universities there is that some jerks want to build a billion dollar football stadium (‘Kim Sinatra, senior vice president and general counsel for Wynn Resorts, said, “A billion dollars is a lot of money. If we want to spend a billion dollars on UNLV, is it a stadium?”’), and, well, nuff said.

‘“I don’t give a (expletive) where his name is,” Powers said.’

It has always been this blog’s privilege to highlight notable events at our nation’s front porch, university football. The Cal Poly scoreboard conundrum is quintessentially one such event, combining the glories of game day with ponzi schemes, claw back, money-hemorrhaging litigation, and institutional embarrassment.

A big ol’ Cal Poly booster, Al Moriarty, spent $650,000 of a bunch of suckers’ money (investors included professors at the school) to get his name plastered all over the school’s scoreboard. Now that big Al’s in jail for the kind of massive fraud you can only perpetrate if you were a hall of famer and everybody thinks you’re Jesus Christ reincarnate, Cal Poly desperately wants MORIARTY ENTERPRISES off the effing scoreboard pronto.

Well but hold on. The trustee in charge of getting some money back for the suckers says Cal Poly should pay him to take it off. And a judge agrees!

Cal Poly cannot cover or remove convicted felon Al Moriarty’s name from the scoreboard at its football stadium, a bankruptcy judge ruled Friday.

… The trustee has argued that since Moriarty used investor money to pay for the scoreboard, those investors are entitled to get that money back.

And, see, if you let Cal Poly cover up the name, it won’t have any incentive to cough up the cash.  Plus seven percent interest.

EXTORTION! screams Cal Poly.

Oh shush, says the trustee.  Pay up and shut up.

*********************

Details of the original agreement are fun to read. In exchange for handing his dupes’ money over to Cal Poly, Moriarty got not merely the scoreboard thing, but a guaranteed “feature on Moriarty in Cal Poly’s alumni magazine.” Talk about editorial independence! But UD is sure you don’t see that sort of money whoring at other schools.

The University of Hawaii Goes Off the Rails.

“Hawaii athletics is important to the university but it is essentially important to the Hawaii community itself,” Bley-Vroman said. “The university doesn’t itself have a solution. I think that’s important to make that clear. Athletics really is a state-level problem. Not problem, opportunity. It’s a cool thing. We like it.”

Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman babbles in front of a legislative committee, whatever capacity for rational speech he once had totally broken down by the bedlam of his university sports program. Essentially reduced to a few crazed administrators staging pretend Stevie Wonder concerts in a desperate bid to get someone to sit in their stadium, University of Hawaii athletics has lost all dignity. It has lost all capacity to do that thing most other fucked up athletic programs do: lie.

Most other programs can still keep going the lies about ticket sales, sources of revenue, players’ academic progress, etc., etc. But Hawaii can’t even do that. Hawaii’s a madman muttering to the world about its cool games, so important to Hawaii that no one attends them…

I mean, okay, right, sure, no one attends them! That’s why we’re always millions and millions in deficit and why it’s not a cool thing but a problem!

But not OUR problem. Oh no. You did it. The state did it. You have to solve it because we can’t because we don’t have any money and you have money and you have to give us the money. And we promise if you do that you’ll see an immediate turnaround and all the people who don’t give a damn about our stupid corrupt program will pour onto the field!

Sweating in his flower shirt, the university chancellor breaks down in front of the Higher Education Committee. It has come to this.

“U. of Michigan Said To Offer Harbaugh Nearly 10 Times Its President’s Salary To Coach Football Team”

Says it all.

Youngstown is Cuntstown!

Bo Pelini is headed our way! We got ‘im!

WOW.

JUST WOWWWWW.

******************

All hail to thee O Cuntstown,
Our Alma Mater fair;
In sunlight and starshine
We see thee in all thy glory…

University of Georgia: OUR cheating coach deserves every bit as much support as…

… all of our school’s other cheating coaches!

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Says:

This is a very nicely written piece about university football, penned by a brave local English professor in Texas. It shows emotional restraint, and clever concision. John Crisp simply cites three adjacent articles in his local paper:

[O]n a single page in my local paper we find: A suicide by a young man who believed he was suffering from sports-related concussions. A quarterback so vital to the success of his team and its profit-making football program that he’s eager to risk his future mental health. And a university president excoriated for making a sound economic and ethical decision.

The first reference is to the concussion-wracked suicide, Kosta Karageorge, the second to the concussed but still playing Baylor quarterback, and the third to the University of Alabama Birmingham’s decision to shut down its unaffordable football program.

Only in his last line does Crisp come out with it:

One wonders if football has become important beyond all reason.

One of the stupidest states in the union does it again.

There was [Florida Atlantic University’s] $70 million football stadium, a facility so palatial that ESPN will showcase it during the inaugural Boca Raton Bowl this month. Then there was the sea of empty blue seats, a stark reminder that precious few fans care about FAU football — and that FAU’s build-it-and-they-will-come strategy hasn’t worked as hoped.

Public university.

Bloody Auburn

Their football players keep getting killed.

In the same apartment complex.

Auburn freshman football player Jakell Mitchell was shot and killed early Sunday morning at an apartment complex near the Auburn University campus.

… The shooting … occurred at the same apartment complex Desmonte Leonard killed three men, including former Auburn players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips, at a party in the summer of 2012. He was convicted of capital murder, attempted murder and assault in October and will be sentenced Jan. 7.

“[T]he school had signed three players who left Division I schools after being charged with violent crimes in the last two years, and 17 others on the 100-player roster had been convicted of criminal charges ranging from disorderly conduct to drug offenses in Washington County, where the school is based.”

In other words: Top-flight recruiting!

The University of Miami.

A walk down memory lane!

******************

And sure… the place has deteriorated a bit since those glory days…

The Student Fee Scam

UD‘s pal Dave Ridpath talks about it.

By far, the largest student fee is … the intercollegiate athletic fee – which can be upwards of 80% of the total fee amount at many institutions not in Power Five conferences.

Conventional wisdom says that intercollegiate athletics is a boon to colleges and universities; that it’s wildly profitable; attracts new students; enhances fundraising; and boosts the university’s profile. Yet these are myths…

… [S]tudents [are] largely unaware of these fee amounts, and how much [of the fee is] allocated for intercollegiate athletics.

The athletic fee wasn’t obvious (in fact, it wasn’t even itemized) on university bills. Furthermore, getting the exact number from MAC institutions proved exasperating.

Considering the total fees assessed to fund athletics at [Mid American conference] institutions, it’s clear why schools weren’t exactly transparent about the fee. Once the actual fee amount was detailed to the surveyed population of students, over 90% were either against the athletic fee or wanted it substantially lowered.

“Representing JMU at sporting events in a put-together and respectful manner is part of our duty as students.”

Legal duty? Or moral duty?

You take a school like James Madison University, a school no different from tons of others in this country… A school which recently spent tens of millions of dollars spiffing up its football stadium, and hundreds of thousands of dollars bidding on a home playoff game.

JMU is a U. A university. All that money might have been directed to education.

The last game played in JMU’s 25,000-person seating capacity stadium drew how many students? Let’s see:

Only 1,622 students came to Saturday’s game, despite JMU opening residence halls and dining facilities earlier than usual after Thanksgiving. JMU had estimated in its bid [JMU paid $200,000 for the privilege of holding this game] that 6,200 students would attend the game. Because the NCAA doesn’t allow host institutions to offer complimentary playoff tickets, JMU athletics sponsored all of the student tickets to keep them free. Documents provided to The Breeze [the campus newspaper] show that the price for each ticket was set at $10, and JMU budgeted $62,000 for the student tickets.

So let’s see if UD (notoriously weak on math) is getting this right. Correct UD if she’s wrong. In 2011, this school spent sixty-two million dollars increasing the number of seats in its football stadium to 25,000. We are now 2014, and at the last game fewer than 2,000 (non-paying) students showed up (even this figure might be optimistic, since schools typically count tickets picked up rather than human beings present). (Counting all non-student fans, the stadium was half full.) Again, this was a play-off game. Students tickets were free.

Let’s go back to that 1,622 figure. Look what the school estimated they’d get. 6,200. Off by a rather significant figure, no? You’d want to ask – where did the highly compensated athletics department at JMU (“[In 2013,] three of JMU’s top seven salaries were those of coaches.] get that figure? Out of their ass?

Where’s Nate Silver when you need him? But even so, aren’t there one or two statisticians at JMU who might have been consulted? After all, the – let’s call it the tanking pattern – is well-established…

*******************

Tiens.

Et alors.

Ecoute.

That student up there… that JMU student going on about the duty of all people admitted to James Madison University to attend football games… She’s the cutting edge. She and her school represent the future of university football.

One option of course is to shut the program, as the University of Alabama Birmingham just did. Almost no one else is going to choose that option.

Most everyone else is going where JMU’s headed: After the endless campus newspaper articles and official statements from the coaches and angry articles in the local booster press full of threats, bribes, and recriminations, will indeed come the punishment of those unwilling to assume their duty to take one of the 25,000 seats.

******************

Okay, so here we go into numbers again: Figure about ten thousand locals show up at the games. James Madison has close to 20,000 students. So to fill up the stadium something around 15,000 JMU students will have to step up and do their duty.

Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of boredom*
Rode the fifteen thousand.

—————————–

* “Football games are fun,
but partying is more fun.
I may go for the first half,
but it gets boring after a while.”

You think sitting at a stupid three-hour football game is boring? Try sitting in a jail cell for a week.

“Whatever happened or did not happen to Jackie, campus sexual violence remains all too real, and false reports are rare.”

The editorial board of the New York Times reminds us of a prevailing reality at increasing numbers of American universities — what a writer for the New Yorker, in a long piece about Duke University, calls “the coarsening of undergraduate life.”

At the bottom of the university hierarchy, business-model party schools desperately seek to maintain tanking enrollments through the massive availability of booze, drugs, frats, and sports. Any location dominated by this mix will see assaults and riots; any location whose life virtually depends on these things will see an increase in assaults and riots. Places like these, as they become notorious, draw unaffiliated disorderly people from the towns and cities around them, so that we see the phenomenon of huge tailgates composed of drunks with no intention of attending the football game attached to the tailgate; we see riots at Keene State College attracting hundreds of random non-Keene State people who like violence and know they can get some there; we see growing numbers of sexual assaults carried out by non-student opportunists infiltrating frat parties.

At the top of the university hierarchy, schools attended by the “cubs of some of our most successful predators” (UD loves this phrase, but can’t find its source) feature the same booze, drugs, frats, and sports mix — not because they need to in order to attract applicants (everyone wants to go to Duke, UVa, Vanderbilt…), but because the schools are modeling the work hard/play hard thing that their graduates will need as they prepare to become competitive in hedge fund culture. Some of these students, like poor George Huguely, show up on campus already well-bred, well-soaked, alcoholics; others learn the life.

In a New Yorker article about the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal, Adam Gopnik writes:

[F]or lovers of France and French life, there is something deeply depressing [in] … what many in Paris see as the “Italianization” of French life — the descent into what might become an unseemly round of Berlusconian squalor...

You don’t have to gaze at the shit-strewn post-tailgate campus of the University of Georgia to know that the Italianization of the American university campus is an achieved fact in plenty of places, and that there’s too much money at stake (consider, among many examples, the disquieting fact of fewer and fewer students attending football games, and the growing need to ply them with drink to get them to attend) to do anything but ramp up the Italianization.

It is terribly important to get an accurate account of the now-notorious reported rape at the University of Virginia; but we are well past needing to establish the fact that our Italianizing campuses are dangerous.

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