Clemson Faculty: That’s so cool!

“Are you saying the athletic department is fully paying its entire expenses, including salaries, and the university is not contributing?” asked chemistry professor Dvora Perahia.

“We are part of the university,” Hill said. “We are what is called an auxiliary enterprise, which by definition produces its own revenue and pays its expenses.”

Hill said reports on how self-sustaining athletics departments are will vary depending on accounting definitions. Clemson, for instance, grants in-state tuition to athletes so that the scholarship dollars stretch further — a savings of about $2.5 million to the athletics department. This and the student fee, though it provides tickets to students, are considered subsidies in some reports.

Still, Hill said, Clemson athletics pays the salaries of every staff member and coach, covers all its buildings’ utilities, pays for all team travel, and raises all the money for $8 million in athletics scholarships.

“We charter jets?” American literature professor Susanna Ashton said.

“Of course,” Hill said.

“Sorry, I don’t do sports. The word ‘jet’ caught my attention. That’s cool,” Ashton said.

“We’ve got a football team with out-of town games, and we have to get them back for class,” Hill said.

Rutgers: The Clemson of the East Coast

“You have money sucked out of academics and huge subsidies going to athletics,” said Mark Killingsworth, an economics professor. “You wonder what is this place. Are we a university or what? …”

… Rutgers does not intend to diminish its ambitions. Last year, the university explored joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, and on Thursday [AD Tim] Pernetti said that the Rutgers program was “priced to move in every way.”

“… Clemson and West Virginia University could each have to pay $2 million for unsold tickets if no more tickets are sold.”

Hey, where is everybody? We’ve got these hotshit teams, going to the big bowl and all, and … nada! Not only do our universities take a big ol’ hit, but we’re gonna have to scramble to find people to give these tickets away to if we want to avoid looking a bit… meagre… fanwise… on tv.

“Obviously we had hoped that we would sell more with it being a prestigious bowl, a BCS game,” [the West Virginia University sports marketing guy] said.

Yeah WTF. Human enterprises don’t come any more prestigious than the Bowl Championship Series; and – dang! – football’s the front porch of the American university! I challenge you to say one word against big-time university football! So WHAT the hell’s going on.

“CLEMSON, USC SPENDING MILLIONS MORE ON SPORTS”…

… is just the sort of headline to make UD‘s heart leap up.

How good it is to know that “Revenues from big-time athletics at Clemson University have soared by more than $20 million since 2005, yet the program last year operated at a slight loss even as income from ticket sales jumped 59 percent.”

How comely in thy sight, O Lord, that “These figures come at a time when an analysis by USA TODAY shows that the nation’s top sports colleges are propping up their athletic departments to the tune of more than $800 million, while many are cutting faculty salaries and raising student fees and tuition.”

And amen to this: “At Clemson, nine assistant football coaches will earn a total of more than $1.8 million this year, and the board of trustees last week approved raises for them, bumping the total to $2.3 million. In addition to that, head coach Dabo Swinney got a $900,000 raise. That brings the total payroll for Clemson’s 10 football coaches to $4 million – up from $2.6 million in 2009.”

Various dust-ups at Clemson University…

… reveal the place to be just … a little different.

It’s being sued in federal court, but wants the suit thrown out since Clemson’s got sovereign immunity as an arm of the state.

Let’s listen in as the lawyers have themselves a little parley.

Clemson attorney Tom Bright cited a dozen ways Clemson is an arm of the state, including Clemson money being held by the state and Clemson’s budget being approved by the state Legislature.

“The state controls all manner of activities for Clemson,” Bright said.

Collins countered that Clemson officials for years have claimed it is a municipality with its own magistrate’s court and fire department.

Collins likened Clemson to Humpty Dumpty saying, “When I use a word … it means just what I choose it to mean, no more or less.”

He said Clemson wants to tell people it is a municipality but then say in court it isn’t.

Moreover, said Collins, seven of Clemson’s trustees are appointed for life, and the state constitution prohibits life appointments to state positions.

“If Clemson University is an arm of the state, all the life trustees are disqualified,” Collins said.

Under Clemson’s unusual charter, seven of its 13 trustees are appointed for life and choose their successors.

Clemson’s Bright said even though some trustees are called life trustees, “it doesn’t make them trustees for life.”…

Removing a Clemson Life Trustee can be done, but it’s tricky.

A Life Trustee may only be removed by action of the other Life Trustees. In the event four Life Trustees believe that another Life Trustee has failed to properly perform the duties required of all Trustees, the four shall present their concerns to the Life Trustee with the longest continuing service (“Senior Life Trustee”), exclusive of the Life Trustee whose actions are in question. In the event two or more Life Trustees have equal years of service, the Senior Life Trustee shall be deemed the Life Trustee whose last name appears first in alphabetical order. The Senior Life Trustee shall convene a meeting of the Life Trustees to hear the allegations and to render a decision. The Life Trustee whose failure has been alleged shall have the right to be notified seven days in advance of the meeting and shall have the right to present evidence in his or her own defense. The Senior Life Trustee shall establish procedural guidelines for the meeting, but in no event shall any attorney be permitted to attend the meeting for the purpose of representing any party involved. Once all evidence has been presented, the Life Trustee in question will leave the meeting and the remaining Life Trustees will deliberate and vote by secret ballot. In the event five Life Trustees vote to remove the Life Trustee, then his or her service on the Clemson University Board of Trustees shall be terminated. An action to remove a Life Trustee shall be effective immediately, unless otherwise specified at the time the action is taken.

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

Update: Some more information:

Unlike situations at many other state public universities, Clemson’s inner workings have rarely undergone scrutiny. The state’s watchdog agency, the Legislative Audit Council, has investigated finances at other top state education institutions but never looked into Clemson’s financial practices, according to its Web site.

Unlike leaders at other colleges and universities, a majority – seven – of Clemson’s trustees are called life members and are self-appointed. They are not subject to direct oversight by the governor or legislature. The legislature chooses only six trustees.

At the state’s 12 other four-year colleges and universities, the trustees are picked mostly by the legislature. Clemson’s life trustees were a requirement set out in the will of Thomas Green Clemson, who died in 1888, leaving most of his estate to found the school.

Not that politician-appointed boards are a pretty thing! Look at Southern Illinois University, for god’s sake. But this here arrangement’s mighty weird for an arm of the state.

Clemson’s Faculty Resolves…

… to express its anger at the university’s leadership.  The draft resolution on disproportionate administrative salaries is here.

Via FITS News.

Background here.

Scummy Clemson…

close up.

Faculty outrage over well-publicized administrative bonuses there has reached the boiling point, including some in the faculty senate calling for a vote of no confidence in Clemson president James Barker and provost Doris Helms, who saw her pay increase by 32.8 percent over the past two years.

Adding fuel to that already burning fire was news earlier this month that Barker’s son was recently hired in the Office of Marketing Services to make $51,000 and Board of Trustees vice chairman Joseph Swann’s daughter, attorney Erin Swann who works in Barker’s office, received a 24.2 percent raise. The information came out of a faculty senate meeting on Tuesday, March 10, in which Clemson French professor emeritus John Bednar brought the personnel and raise issues to the floor and issued strong condemnations of Clemson’s leadership.

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


Over the past two years,
Clemson gave pay raises ranging from 10 percent to 100 percent to 99 people — only 46 of whom were faculty members; the majority of those raises went to administrators, coaches and extension employee[s]. The university also has come under fire — rightly so — for hiring the president’s son and giving a 24 percent raise to a lawyer whose father is vice chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Background, if you can stomach it, here.

The Trembling President

… I don’t really blame Saban; I blame Alabama’s school president for allowing a football coach carte blanche on what players are admitted into the university. The same goes for presidents at Florida State, Florida, Clemson and the countless other schools that recruited Dalvin Cook, the star FSU running back who was arrested recently and charged with punching a woman outside a Tallahassee bar.

According to records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Cook was arrested as a juvenile on two separate charges – one involving a robbery and another involving possessing and firing a weapon on school property.

Question: Don’t colleges and college presidents have a responsibility to protect their student bodies by not admitting football players who might be a threat to fellow students?

Mike Bianchi reminds us that jockshops like Clemson, etc., do have presidents. Admittedly these people do little other than attend football games and perform acts of obeisance to their head coach. (And fill out institutional assessment forms.) But just as a cat may look at a king, so a jockshop president may overcome his awareness of his microscopic salary compared to the salary of the coach and beg a few words with Nick or Jimbo about his quest for the biggest, most violent undergrads in America.

[S]everal years ago … Miami recruited Willie Williams, a prep-All-America linebacker from South Florida who was arrested 11 times as a juvenile.

UM President Donna Shalala, in an attempt to justify the signing, wrote in a letter to school boosters: “Mr. Williams is one of us — a son of Miami. We have a special obligation, relationship and commitment to the young people of our South Florida community. We want them to continue to think of us as a place of academic excellence and opportunity.”

Shalala’s letter may be the biggest pile of pabulum in college football history.

That makes me nostalgic. Here at University Diaries we had a hell of a good time following Shalala’s hyper-criminalized University of Miami, and fact is we miss her.

How we talk about universities in the United States.

If Cook pleads out in the battery case or gets convicted, Fisher’s choice should be easy. But it probably won’t be because Cook is really, really good.

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

Did Florida State (along with Florida, Clemson and the dozens and dozens of other schools who recruited Cook) have any trepidation about bringing someone onto their campus who was arrested twice as a juvenile — once in connection with a robbery and the other in connection with firing a weapon and possessing a weapon at an event on school property?

Swiney

Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney on Wednesday reiterated reservations about how schools will implement the oncoming trend of providing “full cost of attendance” to scholarship student-athletes. He said that while he’s all for “modernizing the scholarship,” he opposes “professionalizing college athletics.”

Mr. Swinney’s defense of the amateur-athletics ideal would sound more convincing if he weren’t making $3.3 million this year to coach Clemson on a contract that runs through the 2021 season.

‘“People say, ‘Look at the price of the plane,’ and I say, ‘Look at what we’re paying coaches,’ said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian White, an Anderson Republican who sits on the Joint Bond Review Committee, which will review the request. “It’s the times.”’

There’ll always be a Clemson.

“Consistency is all I ask!” “Give us this day our daily mask.”

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s chatter captures an important truth about corruption and hypocrisy as they play out at some of our highest-profile big-time sports universities. Everyone knows that universities like Auburn and Clemson are corrupt; but Auburn and Clemson are consistently corrupt; they wear the daily mask of honest hypocrisy. They have a modest, becoming, forthcoming, hypocrisy.

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

Think of it this way.

“[A] state like Illinois with a high corruption rate makes a better investment than a state with a moderate corruption rate… The reason is that the return for your bribe is more certain in a highly corrupt environment.”

It turns out that a very corrupt state offers its own kind of transparency.

That’s the kind of transparency I’m talking about. Almost all big-time sports universities are highly corrupt, but only some are transparent about it.

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

Or think of it this way: Who do you prefer to represent international banking, Lloyd Blankfein or the Reverend Prebendary Stephen Green? Recall Blankfein’s reliable mask as he testified in front of Congress; compare this to the reverend’s chilly refusal to lower himself to discuss his own lowness… his refusal to accept his lowness.

What I’m trying to say is that the truly contemptible universities are those, like Duke and Chapel Hill, who keep flouncing around like Blanche Du Bois, denying that they’re just as whorish as Clemson and Auburn. Duke’s Beloved Leader – like Rev Green – refuses to discuss his program’s latest scandal. UNC doesn’t want to talk about the likelihood that it’s as corrupt on the graduate level as it is on the undergraduate. (UD thanks Ken, a reader, for this link.) But they owe it to us – the American taxpayers subsidizing their luxury boxes full of drunken louts and their departments of exercise sciences doing the Beloved Leader’s bidding – to be transparently corrupt.

The local rags – especially in the southland – specialize in propaganda pieces on behalf of the local university teams…

… and Scathing Online Schoolmarm, long a student of propaganda, finds them well worth a look. If you read through the SOS posts on this blog, you’ll see plenty of analyses of modern American sports agitprop.

The point of this genre of writing is to transform empty stadiums into … well, not full… everyone knows what’s what these days in university sports… But to transform the total embarrassment of empty stadiums (the stuff is broadcast) into the mild discomfort of half-full stadiums. And since shitty dissolute sports programs repel everyone, your hackwork here ain’t gonna be easy.

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

Why is why SOS finds it sad that the people to whom editors throw these challenging assignments are usually the rookies, or anyway the worst writers on staff. Who else would take the gig? Your job is to rally the troops – to get the burghers of Bogalusa out of bed in order to hit terrible traffic, deal with scary drunks, sit for three hours while almost nothing happens, etc., etc., etc.

Those long empty hours give people plenty of time to contemplate less than attractive aspects of the sports program they’re supposed to be cheering. FAMU’s fans, for instance, will have trouble shaking off memories of their school’s homicidally hazing marching band…

But you won’t find a word about that ongoing unpleasantness in Jordan Culver’s piece in the Tallahassee Democrat yesterday. Culver begins with a lament:

[F]ans have been absent — if not totally nonexistent — during home games.

That’s home games, so I guess we’re talking, uh, even less than nonexistent for away.

What to do? The team stinks, the band kills its musicians, and to make matters worse vanishingly few people are applying to attend FAMU anyway. Into this desperate situation steps the local propagandist. What can he do to help?

There are basically two ways to go: Righteous rage against the people (we’ll see an example of that in a moment), and – the Culver option – humble entreaty. Culver goes ahead and acknowledges that the program’s a total mess, with new coaches stepping in every ten minutes or so… But please note! When I call FAMU coaches, they answer the phone and talk to me!

I call, he answers. I ask a question, he — to the best of his ability — provides an answer.

You can’t abandon a program whose coaches pick up the phone. Plus they all have “a vision.”

[FAMU’s interim athletics director] is willing to share [his] vision, and I think it’s one even the most disgruntled FAMU fan can get behind.

But what is that vision? Culver doesn’t quote the AD; nor does he quote any of the other people who will be running the FAMU program for the next few hours. He just says they all have a vision. The vision thing. We can get behind that, can’t we?

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

Righteous rage against the people has certain inherent risks, familiar to the classic propagandists of communist countries. The greatness of humanity, its glorious freedoms – these are what life is all about. They’re especially what the freewheeling all-American ethos of sport is about. You don’t want to mess up that… vision… with nasty, coercive, or – God forbid – threatening language.

On the other hand, if you are Clemson zealot Zach Lentz you are in a terrible vindictive snit, especially about the basketball team.

[S]upport for this team is dwindling at an astonishing rate and it has to wear not only on the coach but the players.

This first point is a variant of what SOS has long called coacha inconsolata (put the phrase in my search function), the evocation of the agonies suffered by coaches who through no fault of their own recruit criminals or make institution-destroying salaries or play to empty stadiums. In an echo of the notorious “kitten” internet meme, coacha inconsolata says Every time you fail to attend a game, a coach is worn down to a nub.

Same deal for the kids:

These student-athletes put hours of blood, sweat and tears into a job that’s sole purpose is to entertain the fans watching. The least we can do as fans is get out of our house or dorm and make the trip or walk over to support them. Maybe if we fans get behind the team from the beginning rather than waiting on a magical end-of-the-season run, we might see something special from a special group of kids.

First, then, you inflict guilt. Next up is the drill sergeant, barking his orders with numbing redundancy:

[T]here is no excuse. There is no excuse for there to be empty seats in the student section. No excuse for the people who have said of football game times, “I don’t care if they play at 2 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, I’m going to be there.”

Liars! Look what you said, and look what you did! No excuse, no excuse, no excuse!

The next thing is fully in line with the tendency of communist regimes to say exactly the opposite of the truth as if everyone knows this exactly the opposite thing is obviously true:

[P]eople love to go to sporting events. They love to be a part of the pageantry and witness the spectacular in person.

We don’t have to threaten our people with reprisals if they fail to show up for the May Day parade. Everyone loves pageantry and spectacle.

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

It’s strange how Lentz hasn’t noticed the national conversation about massively tanking attendance at university sports events.

It’s especially strange since he’s writing about massively tanking attendance at his university’s sports events.

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

Finally: The sobbing old-timer grapples with his lost world.

There was a time when students camped outside, waited in the cold and rain and people couldn’t wait to get inside to watch their team take on whoever dared enter the arena that night.

Why, I remember, back in two thousand naught eight…

When a university that’s nothing BUT its fraternities and sports teams…

… shuts down its fraternities (relax: they’ll be back in business in no time), you know that public attention to the hazing/football nexus has grown so alarmingly that even pathetic Clemson (famous for having gamed its US News and World Report ranking by rating “all programs other than Clemson below average” on the US News survey) has had to look sharp. Its drunken carnage is definitely trending up a bit, so it’s decided to give everyone a chance to take a deep breath and think about how they can avoid killing more pledges once frat life starts up again. Very creditable of them.

A Scroll Through Architectural Digest’s Best New University Buildings.

Here they are. UD comments on each one.

The writer starts with a new building at Yale, and there’s a reason he starts with this project. It’s the best. By far. Most of the others are quite bad, but the Edward P. Evans Hall, with its soft light ‘fifties modernism footprint is simply a pretty, non-jarring, non-aggressive addition to the campus.

Like a lot of contemporary buildings, its interior is so insanely open and abstract that things like privacy and the human specific seem totally absent. And while UD herself might not be keen on the tendency away from autonomy and individuality, she acknowledges that – especially in a business building – an architect has to reflect the digitized groupworld of the people who inhabit the construction. Evans Hall’s walls feature massive childish Sol LeWitt wall art, reflecting the thin bright bold everything-supersized world of postmodern hedgies (Yale has plenty of gothic architecture and brooding squinting portraiture for its humanities division).

Lee Hall at Clemson (AD’s #8), for its school of architecture, is also excellent. It mirrors the mini-Dulles-Airport, modestly soaring, white-sail-like, radically open floor plan, all-windows, exteriorized technology (see the Pompidou Center) thing the Yale building’s doing – and it does all of this well. And #9, the Reid Building, is equally fine, in the same almost-all-white, radically open, large masses luminescently lit way as Lee and Evans (a critic of the building notes that “Doors are in notably short supply, the whole interior presenting a Piranesi-like fluidity.”). You could argue that Reid is out of keeping with the bricky gloom of its Scottish street, but there’s nothing wrong with having a lighthouse to perk things up.

Eh, okay, so that’s the good stuff. The bad buildings all have stuff in common, just as the good buildings do. Mainly the bad stuff features pointless gigantic dead abstraction (see #4, which clearly has no context at all – I don’t see anything around it – and therefore randomly sprouts, a dying mushroom and a red oxygen canister trying to pump life back into it via an obscure connecting unit); yet more abstract gigantism plus deadly overhangs (#2; #7); desperate chaotic wedging in (#3); overhangs, gigantic abstraction, and dramatic Spiderman-like pointless design features (#5); and, finally, runty off-kilter deconstructed blah with overhangs (#6).

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