Course clustering, yes. Rich Rodriguez, yes. Pretend independent studies, yes.

Fireworks at the football stadium, no.

After all, the University of Michigan is

not Comerica Park or a Super Bowl or Disney World or a circus. Enough is enough. [Our stadium should be] a place that resists the excesses of our culture.

Thus sayeth the classy trustees at U Mich, where Chapel Hill-style manipulation of courses seems to have been routine, where Mary Sue Coleman carried on an expensive, ill-fated romance with Rich Rodriguez, where… ick. Enough. More than enough.

“Students aren’t coming to games, even at places where they win national championships: Alabama, LSU, Georgia. The no-show rate for students who bought tickets to games is around 25 percent these days, even for some of its biggest games, and those are teams that are really doing well.”

And, you know, if sports factories can’t “connect with students when they’re on campus — when they’re a walk away from going to one of the best football games in the country every Saturday, for free — how are they going to be able to do that when these kids are in their 30s and 40s and 50s and they become the next generation of donors and boosters …?”

Yeah, bummer, and it keeps the AD and the coach up at night so you’re going to have to increase their salaries by a million dollars a year because this is like a whole new thing they didn’t sign up for. Who knew that teams mainly composed of fake students and thugs playing in an enormous half empty stadium whose shrieking Adzillatron cannot be escaped might fail to attract fans? Don’t university students enjoy sitting around endlessly while waiting for the ads on the television stations airing the game to finish? Oh, but while they wait they can watch their very own endless ads on the inescapable Adzillatron, featuring some local fuckhead selling mattresses! Where do I sign up?

Why don’t students enjoy being associated with prisons? Doesn’t that add to the wonderful energy of game day? What is wrong with these people?

Update, University of New Mexico

It’s a far less interesting place without the legendary Schmidly/Locksley partnership (read these posts if you haven’t just eaten); but, you know…

The shadow of your smile
When you are gone
Will color all my dreams…

The Locksley buyout and various Schmidly initiatives are gifts that keep giving… And of course when it comes to athletics in particular UNM continues really, really sordid, and things get worse and worse. Let’s quote a bit from a recent article:

In one of the poorest states in the nation, can UNM, which has only one of its 21 intercollegiate sports teams (men’s basketball) turning a profit each fiscal year, justify receiving well more than $2 million per year in state subsidies for athletics? Can it justify student fees totaling $4 million, a figure that has more than doubled in the past two years despite the objections of student representatives on campus?

The new Schmidly says uh I dunno… bad situation I guess but can’t do nuthin…

“The debt service continues to be a challenge for us,” [the athletic director] said, referring to paying down the $60 million renovation of the Pit four years ago. “The financial model was predicated on a naming gift…”

The perfectly named Pit is the basketball stadium. The morons who run UNM promised up and down they’d get some bank or pizza parlor to buy naming rights, only it didn’t happen…

I mean, the financial model?? What a great way to put it. This might be more accurate: I and the idiots with whom I play golf figured we might get the funding if we told everyone

UNM students paid $1.9 million in fees for athletics in 2011-12, with a majority earmarked at covering the costs of student admission to sporting events.

Then, despite the objections of undergraduate and graduate student representatives, came significant increases in those fees. In 2012-13 the students paid $3.2 million and that figure was right at $4 million this past year (2013-14).

“Student fees have been a godsend for us the last couple years. But we, historically, have been on the real low end, and now we’re probably right in the middle,” Krebs said. “But I think there’s a limit to what you can put on the backs of the students.”

In 2012-13, six of the 10 other schools in the Mountain West Conference received more money from student fees than did UNM, as did nearby regional schools New Mexico State University and UTEP.

“I don’t see a huge increase in the student participation around fees, but I do think some nominal increases are probably in their future,” Frank said. “How fast and how much is something we’ll talk to the students about.”

The last fees went up without any talking to anyone. Students objected to them and the school said fuck you. Clearly student fees in years to come will be predicated on the same financial model.

The New York Times Magazine Descends into Happy Valley…

… for another Sandusky go-round, this one focused on ex-president Graham Spanier, “charged with eight criminal counts, including child endangerment, perjury and conspiring to cover up Sandusky’s crimes.”

Penn State is awash in lawsuits and rancor, with no end in sight…

Like that of almost all of the big college football powers, its identity, to an unhealthy extent, is wrapped up in its [football] team…

Lawsuits, rancor, a board of trustees beginning to look like a mad tea party, and the re-deification of Joe Paterno…

‘Bigger picture, Babcock anticipates a less-commercialized approach throughout the season on Lane’s $4 million video board, which debuted last season. Relentless in-stadium sales pitches were among the primary fan complaints cited in a June essay by John U. Bacon, author of “Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football.” Bacon’s online post focused on the University of Michigan, where he teaches, but was read widely by administrators elsewhere such as Babcock.’

So if you’re a Virginia Tech student, this is how it goes: Your money helped pay for the brand new multimillion dollar Adzillatron in the football stadium. But the Adzillatron (as this blog has for years noted) is an Adzillatron, and has as its function the relentless shrieking of commercials at you. For some reason, you don’t like relentless shrieking commercials, so you’ve stopped going to games to get away from them.

Now your highly compensated ADs and coaches have a problem. Either they lose a lot of ad revenue by cutting back on the shrieking, or they lose you.

Remember: They used your money to buy the Adzillatron last year. For years it’s been known that fans hate Adzillatrons. Even if it weren’t widely known, what does it say about your school’s attitude toward you that it’s sure you’ll be fine with relentless shrieking advertisements on immense unignorable screens?

I think it says that your school thinks you’re an idiot, ripe for any form of exploitation.

Oh, but now! Now, within months of its installation, it’s clear that you hate the Adzillatron so much you are fleeing the premises. What does that say about you? What is your university learning about you? That you’re not a sucker willing to endure any frequency and intensity of huckstering? So now, wisely and graciously, your new athletic director announces his discovery that you don’t like Adzillatron ads and he’s going to go easy on them… I mean, somewhat easy… Because after all he’s pretty trapped – you aren’t; you can flee – but he’s trapped. The school has bought the thing on the projection of certain ad revenues…

“How they pulled that off intrigues colleges that are struggling to fill their mammoth football stadiums.”

The lumbering mammoths are so desperate, they’re asking soccer consultants what to do.

Of course, consultants don’t come cheap. Expect your student athletic fees to go up to pay for them.

The Charleston Rag

Tom Herrion was fired after four seasons as College of Charleston basketball coach with a 80-38 mark that included a downward slide (from 25-8 in 2003 to 17-11 in 2006)…

Herrion did, however, get a $787,000 contract buyout when the C of C fired him eight years ago. He got another $550,000 or so parting stash when Marshall University fired him months ago.

And if (make that when) the College of Charleston fires current coach Doug Wojcik for serial verbal abuse of players and others, he’ll get a major chunk of change (he’s owed $1.2 million on the last three years of his deal).

God and Man at CSU

The only real way to argue for an unnecessary, irrelevant, bankrupting, and bohemoth carbuncle right in the center of your campus is by way of recourse to the divine, and, in particular, to divine retribution. You need to scare people. If they don’t get going and get saved, there will be hell to pay. Without tithing hundreds of millions of dollars (many of them coming from students and taxpayers) toward a new football stadium, you will lose the battle with the devil (opposing teams).

There are of course many ways to argue against such a thing… And what Scathing Online Schoolmarm is going to do this morning is look at point/counterpoint, starting with the God Principle, and then moving on to a more secular stance.

Should Colorado State University build a new football stadium? (Note: There’s in fact no question about it. The stadium – at a school where vanishingly few students attend games despite a more than respectable winning average – will be built. So this post isn’t about urging people not to build the stadium. Although not officially announced, it’s a done deal. This is America.) SOS reviews the writing of Mark Knudson, an advocate, and Deborah Shulman, an opponent. Okay, first Knudson.

His title: PUT UP OR SHUT UP. [O come quickly, sweetest Lord, and take my soul to rest!]

CSU athletic director Jack Graham had a vision — a shocking and inspiring vision — when he first took the gig, and he has done a magnificent job of describing that vision. We can now close our eyes (or look on our computer screens) and see the glistening new stadium, blending in as a centerpiece and invigorating the entire campus.

Like Jesus, AD Graham is a radical visionary whose glistening stadium on a hill we too can glimpse when we close our eyes. Also like Jesus, Coach McElwain is beginning to run out of patience with his wayward flock:

How much patience will McElwain be asked to have while he waits for something to actually get done on the vision?

And now the more fleshed out theology:

The issue isn’t whether or not the new stadium is needed. If you know anything about college athletics, you know how badly it is. You know it’s time for the tiny but vocal minority of under-educated opponents to punt.

If CSU wants to remain at all relevant in college sports — remember, there is at least some chance that college football and basketball players might start getting paid in the next few years — then this kind of upgrade is not only needed, it’s critical to simple survival.

If the stadium project doesn’t happen, then it’s just as likely CSU will end up in the lower level Big Sky Conference as it is they will never play in another New Mexico Bowl.

The small-thinking opponents of the stadium can keep talking about dressing up Hughes Stadium and trying to make it look big time, but it never will be. Talking about upgrades to Hughes Stadium is simply another way of saying “putting lipstick on a pig.” Nothing screams “Smallville” like a dirt parking lot — out in the middle of nowhere.

It is so abundantly obvious to sect adherents that a university with a low-attendance football stadium should pay hundreds of millions of dollars for a new one that no argument is needed. Either you see the vision or you don’t. But let me put it this way: Without this stadium, you will die (“survival”). After you die, you will be buried (“a dirt parking lot”) and then go to hell (“the lower level”).

Okay, counterpoint.

Headline: CSU Can’t Afford a New Football Stadium. Not at all catchy or scary. Nothing Sinners in the Hands of an Impatient God about it. SOS fears we are in for a sober, fact-based analysis.

She mentions “millions [in] deficit spending for football.” She reminds us that “faculty had been on a pay freeze for four years” back in 2012 when the AD spent millions and millions on ten football coaches.

More than half the athletic department revenue comes from student fees and university subsidy. The students, faculty and taxpayers pay for football.

In a nationwide trend and at CSU, attendance at football games has been declining. At CSU, athletic ticket sales are less than 8 percent of revenue. Profit or breaking even is an unrealistic goal since most Division 1 schools operate football programs at a considerable deficit and require university subsidy.

The $125 million stadium guesstimate doubled, yet the Board of Governors determined these donors need to raise just half the money, not including costs imposed on CSU and the city. City Councilman Wade Troxell estimated the stadium would impose up to $50 million in city infrastructure adaptations. Taxpayers will cover this cost.

Blah blah. Facts. It’s about vision, baby! Get out of Smallville! Think big!

Why have athletic donors been granted such power and leverage to dictate development of CSU and Fort Collins?

Cuz they got the vision!

Drama Requires Conflict.

First-rate dialogue doesn’t hurt either.

So far, one of our main characters – Professor Julius Nyang’oro – has been frustratingly silent, so not even a speech, much less dialogue there. But he apparently will cooperate with authorities – i.e., talk – about his long history generating fake courses for athletes at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Two other dramatis personae – Mary Willingham and Rashad McCants – have had lots to say about UNC’s corrupt academic tutoring system (that would be Willingham, who’s suing UNC ) and its “garbage no-show classes” system (and that would be Rashad, an athlete whose 4.0 GPA at UNC was a piece of cake, and as curious a piece of cake as Alice ever nibbled). But again, not much give and take here.

With the recent extended comments of UNC Professor Jay Smith in response to other UNC athletes trashing McCants and his claims, we do begin to see a little back and forth, a little point counterpoint, a little taking of sides, so that the drama truly begins to look as though it’s about to take off. UNC and the NCAA will of course remain silent – except for mechanically generated platitudes and threats – throughout this drama; but Smith’s beautifully written response signals to UD that The Storming of Chapel Hill is well on its way to being publicly staged, with a script of which GB Shaw might be proud.

Smith’s response (quoted in full with his permission):

I’m struck by the profiles of those attacking Rashad McCants. On the one hand, you have old-timers spouting off about their experiences in the 1960s, ’70s or early ’80s. These people haven’t seen the inside of an academic support program in years, even decades. They don’t have a clue what the program was like in 2005. Yet they hurl their venom at McCants – a player who had the guts to share his transcript on television, and who also had the guts to buck the tide while he was at UNC [an offense against ‘the family' for which he has never been forgiven].

On the other hand, you have more current players willfully deceiving gullible journalists – while carefully guarding their transcripts – because they don’t want to face reality and deal with the shame that the ‘Carolina way’ was no more than an illusion during their playing days. Antawn Jamison [who played at North Carolina from 1995-98] has the audacity to call McCants a clown? Someone needs to remind Jamison that [UNC-sanctioned special investigator] Ken Wainstein is actually looking at transcripts. Wainstein knows. And he’s going to be issuing a report.

Other people know, too, including some who are writing books. The truth is eventually going to come out. And we’ll see who’s wearing the dunce cap when this story is all said and done.

As for McCants’ refusal thus far to speak to the NCAA or UNC’s compliance officer … I can’t say that I blame him. Look at what UNC has done to him in the wake of his allegations. They slimed him, as they do everyone who dares to utter a critical word about the UNC athletic machine. Why would he want to sit down for a discussion with such people? [I suspect he sees Wainstein as just another agent of the University.] And the NCAA? McCants doesn’t care about doling out punishment or ‘making an example,’ which is all the NCAA ever does.

He wants to see the system change going forward. Neither UNC nor the NCAA has an interest in changing anything. This is why UNC will not acknowledge the truth of what McCants has said and it’s why the NCAA went to court last month to maintain the charade that football and basketball players are ‘students first.’ McCants, it seems to me, just has little interest in wasting his time.

When Roy Williams came here from Kansas, he brought with him the team academic counselor who had served him so well at Kansas: Wayne Walden. He regarded Walden as such a vital contributor to the good fortunes of his teams that he was practically moved to tears when Walden departed in 2009. Walden knew every detail about the academic lives of those players; he had to. He registered them for their courses, for crying out loud. [And that means he got on the phone with the Department of African and Afro-American Studies and he put them in paper classes.] Walden also spoke with Williams every day; he had to. Williams’ claim that he had no earthly idea that his players were floating along on paper classes – and that he never would have guessed that one of his stars was enrolled in four no-show classes in the spring of 2005 – is nothing more than a confidence trick. He’s counting on the customary journalistic favoritism, and journalists’ amazing lack of curiosity, to enable him to tell this whopper and walk away with his aura intact. We’ll see if that works.

Yes, things are heating up. Things are taking shape.

Wretched West Virginia University, Party School Supreme…

… has fallen even lower. Despite plying its students with beer at the football stadium, it’s suffering a significant drop in ticket sales. Wonder why? Must be because they haven’t partied the place up enough. (UD has long recommended, given the amazing love of opioids in that state, that WVU athletics offer fans Oxycontin.)

To make matters worse, the local public radio station recently featured a professor at WVU who gave it hell for deciding to spend seventy-five million on an upgrade for its rapidly emptying stadium. WVU’s athletic director came right back at him with the following argument:

There is no argument that West Virginia University’s first responsibility is to provide the best and broadest educational experience possible for its students. It is the first part of our land-grant mission of teaching, research and service.

For many current and potential students, high-quality intercollegiate athletics are a key part of that experience.

In what way is football part – a key part – of an educational experience? Answer: It isn’t. More and more WVU students seem to realize that. But even as attendance tanks, WVU spends all its money on its football stadium.

Wretched, wretched WVU.

An almost all-male, almost all-jock or jock-loving institution, enjoys an all-male chat…

… about their beloved sports schools.

This is just the sort of institution likely to do something real about the national grotesquerie of big-time college sports. (“If college presidents really wanted to halt the college sports machine, they could try two options. They could insist that athletic departments operate within their university budgets, like the English or biology departments; or they could ask Congress to rescind the tax breaks on the commercial income earned by athletic programs. That has about as much a chance of happening as Florida International did at beating Florida last Saturday. Can you imagine a senator from Texas or Pennsylvania embracing the idea of taxing the Longhorns or Nittany Lions?“) (Sure. This was written in 2009 – before the Nittany Lions gave us all an uncensored look at where our athletic program taxes are going. So what. It’s impossible to imagine an athletic program sufficiently depraved to attract serious congressional attention. Though I guess it’s a fun mind game to in fact try to imagine the depths of degradation that might… Nah.)

America’s Most Criminalized University…

does it again.

You just can’t keep a school like UM down. Feast your eyes (scroll down) on its decades of crime, scandal, violence, and corruption. Amazing.

“I swell with pride when reflecting on the draw of Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld.”

And why, wonders this University of Central Florida administrator, doesn’t our university have the same draw? Why doesn’t anybody come to our football games? Why can’t he swell with UCF pride at the same full attendance he sees at aquariums and amusement parks? “I … cringe when our football team is featured on national TV because the camera might pan up beyond the lower bowl or near the end zone, where seats are often empty.” The university has more than done its bit – it shuts down classes altogether when there’s a big game, for instance…

But here’s the thing about Central Florida University. Empty its football stands might be, but the school itself – qua school, if you know what I mean – is insanely overcrowded, with extensive reliance on massive lecture halls, online courses, PowerPoint automata instead of teachers, etc., etc. In fact, UCF is one of University Diaries’ online makeover schools, universities she believes should simply accept reality and shut down their physical campus.

Given the nature of UCF, would you go to a football game there if you were a student? What do you suppose this high-security (cheating and cameras are rampant) dystopia means to the typical student? A place to pick up a degree, sure. But little more.

Yet why, the UCF administrator asks, do students not understand that

the university’s investment in athletic programs and student-athletes is an important part of UCF’s move to enhance its brand and image, and full support by fans can be a major contributor to that end.

It’s the same deal at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, which is about to build a billion dollar football stadium:

[The university's president] tied the stadium project to UNLV’s larger aspiration of becoming a top-tier research university.

What is there about spending all our money on sports will make us a great intellectual institution that these people don’t understand??

“[T]he football-über-alles culture has not changed appreciably.”

There’s a touch of fascism, and a touch of Stalinism, in this account of life on the ground in Happy Valley.

[I] happened to spend a season in Ukraine, of all places, during the year immediately following Sandusky’s indictment and conviction and Paterno’s firing and death. Just as Odysseus had to journey inland until he encountered people who had never seen an oar before, I went where no one had ever heard of Sandusky or Paterno.

It was enormously refreshing. I paid no attention to Penn State football that fall. Before I went away, I found myself agreeing with those who insisted that the Sandusky case was not, strictly speaking, a football scandal, and that the NCAA therefore overstepped its authority and punished the innocent when it voided all those victories and took away all those scholarships.

From my vantage point in Ukraine, such burning questions cooled to room temperature. The victory total was a notation in a record book. Whether Penn State would now win most of its games or half of them or only a few of them for the next few seasons no longer mattered. As long as everybody has fun and nobody gets hurt, right?

Alas, when I returned from my year away I found Nittany Nation to be as avid as ever. I found it particularly strange to see how fans fawned over new coach James Franklin after the departure of Paterno’s successor, Bill O’Brien, for the NFL.

I could see how, after Paterno’s astonishingly long and successful tenure, the faithful might have transferred their allegiance to O’Brien, hoping for a similarly glorious career. Thus we had “O’Brien’s Lions” and “Billieve” T-shirts. But when O’Brien bolted after two years, I would have thought it would have been clear to all what an anomaly Paterno’s 46-year career was. Most coaches, like most employees in any industry, are loyal until they get a better offer. Best not to get too emotionally invested.

And yet, when Franklin arrived from Vanderbilt, fans flocked to the local airport hoping for a glimpse of His Eminence. Local emporia were quick to hawk a new set of not very clever “Franklions” T-shirts.

Up goes the statue of the Beloved Leader; down goes the statue of the Beloved Leader. Weeping in the streets.

New Beloved Leader.

New statue.

One of the most twisted locations UD has discovered through following university…

… football is also one of the world’s highest-profile Catholic universities: Notre Dame. ND has long been a very scandalous university sports location. I’m not talking only about several players being under arrest or investigation at any given time – that’s routine. I mean that people there positively worship not only coaches but the very grass their coaches walk upon. This is strange and unsettling behavior.

As was the behavior of one of their football players last month. He was arrested for “head butting and punching vehicles” and then threatening to kill the police who were called to the scene.

Beating up cars, using your head to butt cars… more strange and unsettling behavior at a university that’s really gone over the top in terms of the bizarre and the dangerous.

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