Certain public university systems – Hawaii, Alaska, New Mexico – wallow.

They wallow. They simmer in their own juices. They don’t get nowhere.

To be sure, they’re corrupt. I don’t want you to think they aren’t corrupt, or that there isn’t a connection between their being corrupt and their wallowing. There’s a direct connection. People can certainly make money off of wallowing.

On this blog, we make a point of following the nothingness of these schools, with a particular eye on their sports programs, since here the futility, absurdity, and nihilism is at its most obvious.

Take New Mexico. Here’s a typical recent article about it in the local press.

First sentence:

Missed budget projections, lingering debt and low game attendance have all contributed to serious financial troubles at the University of New Mexico Athletics Department.

There’s no there there, see? No one’s at the games – UD is surprised the teams show up – nobody’s in budgeting … The schools I’m talking about, located in America’s nature wonderlands, are an extension of their magnificent silent mountains, their deep echoing oceans, their stretches of frozen tundra…

Crucial to this vast chasm is a really stupid and corrupt state legislature, and all three of these states have them. A certain dance is danced, to be sure… I mean, like clockwork, when a school like New Mexico is in such profound shit that it demands more money from the state, the state says whoa wait uh what’s up over there? What you guys been doing? Didn’t we, uh, give you some money…? Don’t we give you some money every year…? So the head of the House appropriations committee pledges to

take a “fine toothed comb” to the UNM Athletics budget before determining what additional funding looks like, if any.

“We are going to dive into these numbers very closely,” Rep. [Patty] Lundstrom said. “The questions I am going to ask are about compensation packages. I want to know what benefits these coaches and the athletic director have. I want to know how much over their base pay they are receiving of taxpayers’ dollars.”

Yeah cuz for the last hundred years or so while the school lies there on the ground dead all the money we send you goes to the athletic staff and NOW’S THE TIME WE MEAN IT THIS TIME WE’RE REALLY GONNA …

UNM’s Athletics administrators and coaches are among the highest paid state employees. While [AD Eddie] Nunez has made cuts to programs to save dollars, he hasn’t made any cuts that would personally affect his own personal finances or the personal finances of his staff. The high salaries and many benefits that UNM Athletics administrators and coaches are entitled to by their employment contracts have remained untouched…

…[S]everal salaries [are] above $300,000 per year with a variety of 13 different types of benefits ranging from free-use vehicles to media pay, promotional pay, incentive bonuses, season tickets to games, country club memberships, retention bonuses, free spouse travel to games and in one case a relocation expense totaling nearly $20,000.

[Scathing Online Schoolmarm says: a variety of 13 different types is redundant. Just write 13 different types. You could even write just 13 types. The high number jumps out more if you just go directly for it.]

The AD’s response to this fact is a beaut. In an entire culture of stupidity, it still manages to stand out.

“I am a supporter of incentives because to me, it incentivizes people to do something. If they achieve it, some great things are happening.”

SOS will not attempt to parse this, because she is old and fragile; she will merely remind you that the athletic program at New Mexico is a debacle.

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.

“[The University of Hawaii athletics] program is trapped in an increasingly ineffectual infrastructure that threatens to capsize the whole university.”

A local columnist points out that scandalous, money-hemorrhaging University of Hawaii athletics is only part of the story at comprehensively unbelievable UH.

‘Portnoy says that while the legislature may want the University of Hawaii to look at what money it has on hand now to help the athletic department, President David Lassner has stated that he will not do that, because he must deal with other competing interests throughout the university system.’

Well, it’s clear that David Lassner’s days are numbered. University of Hawaii football – a total bankrupting university-destroying joke – will have to be maintained via things like “tuition hikes, student athletic fee hikes,” and it looks as though Lassner might not go along with that. Soaking students for sports in which they have zero interest (their mistake is having instead an interest in academics) is a time-honored tactic in the world of university revenue sports, and why shouldn’t UH do it too? It’s not as though it has a great university to defend against these maneuvers. UH is already mediocre and looks likely to stay that way. Where’s the damage? Just keep scraping along overcharging students and putting on games no one attends.

The University of Hawaii Maintains a Dignified Silence…

… over the death of its football program.

The University of Hawaii Athletics Department won’t reveal ticket sales numbers for the upcoming football season, which starts in two weeks.

[A spokesperson said] it was still too early to estimate ticket sales, even though season tickets are sold well in advance.

Rumor has it that we’re talking about a little over 12,000 sold. The stadium seats 50,000.

It’s truly worth your while to follow University of Hawaii Athletics.

I know you don’t think so. I know you’re content to think of that state rarely … as a vague jewel set off to the left of the left coast…

But if you type Hawaii Athletics into this blog’s search engine, you’ll be shaken out of your vagueness.

Hawaii is after all a startlingly corrupt state, so you’d expect its university system to be a mess. And it is; it is a mess. But within that mess, athletics is a doubleplusgood mess. The people of Hawaii just bailed it out of its thirteen million dollar debt so as to clear the way for more astounding debt accumulation…

How do they do it? Well, no one goes to their games. So that would mean no ticket sales. And then there’s constant expensive mischief. Not just stuff that hits the national news, like the Stevie Wonder concert scam; we’re also talking NCAA rules violations and having to pay for internal investigations, etc., etc.

Hawaii’s athletic director, by the way, sure knows how to make a public statement. He “acknowledges” the latest NCAA investigation (this one’s of the basketball team) and ends this way:

Thank you for your understanding, respect and your continued support of University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Athletics. GO BOWS!

GO BOWS! We love ya guys, and this is just the time to say it! In deep shit with the NCAA again: Huzzah!

“The University of Hawaii is paying a consulting firm $224,000 to study how the school can avoid …

being scammed.”

“Because of concerns [Professor John] Wendell and other faculty had about [the University of Hawaii’s] spending on outside counsel, Wendell said he requested the invoices to get a more detailed accounting.”

And the university promptly responded to his request: Fork over $40,000 – no – make that $100,000 – and they’re yours.

It’s hard for us to access our records! And since you’ve been so indecorous as to appeal to Hawaii state open records laws in response to our initial outright refusal of your request (“[T]he agency that oversees Hawaii’s open records law issued an advisory opinion saying the invoices must be released.”), it’s only right that we punish you.

Bad boy. Bother us again and we’ll charge you fourteen million and shoot off your kneecaps.

The Chair of Family Medicine at the University of Hawaii Keeps Resigning Posts.

He was nominated for state health director, but shortly after accepting the nomination he turned it down.

He has just resigned as head of family medicine at the state university.

Allegations of medical reimbursement fraud keep following him around, but no one’s saying much.

If he is guilty of this, what an amazing, high-level instance of corruption this would have been – state health director! Even by Hawaii’s standards — it has long been one of our most corrupt states — this would have been quite an accomplishment.

Neal Palafox remains a tenured member of the UH medical faculty. I wonder how long that will last.

‘Fresno State held off a furious rally by Hawaii to secure a 31-21 Mountain West Conference victory tonight before an Aloha Stadium crowd of 13,714.’

Capacity of Aloha Stadium: 50,000.

Background here.

University of Nebraska: Sludgeworld.

Some university systems – Alaska’s, Hawaii’s, Nevada’s – are hopelessly mired in go-nowhereism and that’s for a lot of reasons and that’s not going to change.

The University of Nebraska system is like this, even though its chancellor insists the place trembles on the brink of being “a leading urban metropolitan institution.”

They don’t much cotton to academics in those parts, infinitely preferring sports. Sports gets gobs of money that other universities would use for instructors and classrooms and all.


Consider the new cost-overrun and firmly in the red arena on the Omaha campus.

Although there’s a very nice, almost brand new, arena just down the road, and although wee Omaha already has too many arenas hemorrhaging money (one of them’s well on its way to bankrupting a town), UNO announced that building another new arena was imperative and we swear it’ll pay for itself right off the bat! Won’t need to use university funds, or soak students, or anything.

But stupid is as stupid does, and they’re covering their big losses on the thing with university funds, and that’s going to continue indefinitely. So you see how the sludge happens: Stupid sports-obsessed schools never get out from under their sports obsession.

But they don’t want to. Since they don’t see the point of intellectuality, what else would they do with their money?

“I think that a university with a Division I sports program cannot, by definition, be considered ‘great.’ In such a place too much time, energy, attention and resources are given to big-time entertainment that is essentially meaningless.”

A writer for the Auburn Citizen wrote this last year, and ever since then UD‘s been chewing on it. In particular, when UD reads about big-time football schools like the University of Hawaii, Western Michigan U., and Eastern Michigan U. — all of them perennially in the news for bankrupting their students and keeping their schools down in order to subsidize shitty coaches and put on games no one attends — UD ponders that “meaningless” thing.

The pathetic state of EMU in particular has attracted the attention of the national media. Singling out that school, an HBO show called The Arms Race featured the following facts:

At Eastern Michigan, the sports program lost $52 million over the past two years according to Howard Bunsis, an accounting professor at that school. Plus the school football team has not a winning season in nearly a couple of decades and regularly posts the smallest attendance figures in all college football.

(That amount by the way is nothing next to national joke Rutgers, where “in the last 12 years, the school’s athletics department has lost $312 million.”)

The leadership of all of these universities — president, trustees — goes ape-shit whenever anyone suggests that the all-consuming activity that has basically killed their school is meaningless. (Faculty and students, two groups immiserated by athletics, feel differently, but who listens to them?) The ferocity of their unanimous response to suggestions that they lead their university in a more meaningful as well as fiscally responsible direction tells you that for these people taking down a university through the removal of all revenues via football is obviously patently totally on the face of it worth it.

So what is the transcendent meaning they attach to what looks to the rest of us like suicide via sports?

UD thinks a hint can be found here:

It is as though they see a successful sports program as a winning multi-million dollar lottery ticket. Never mind that millions of lottery ticket holders lose.

UD thinks a more vivid and valuable analogy would be to the cargo cult phenomenon. Long ago in our ancestral past, godlike men appeared and won games and there was jubilation among the people. Then the big men went away.

Ever since, we have built gleaming stadiums and training facilities to induce them to reappear.

They will reappear.

We will never give up.

This is the meaning of our life.

“The fact that the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa would turn to financially strapped students to pay for it is outrageous, unfair and contributes to UH Mānoa’s dismal academic reputation.”

Some American universities have become little other than full football stadiums; others, like the University of Hawaii, take the opposite approach: empty.

Think of someone who buys a Hummer and spends tens of thousands of dollars a day filling its tank — only there’s something wrong with the tank, and no matter how much money the Hummer owner spends on fuel, the tank is always totally empty. At UH, the football stadium’s capacity is maintained at empty through vast punishing institutional expenditures (“dismal academic reputation”).

The school’s latest plan to keep the stadium doors open to no one is to double student athletic fees.

Although the fools in flower shirts who run UH see nothing wrong with this picture, students are upset. As this post’s headline, taken from the school newspaper, suggests, students have run the numbers and correctly concluded that the university cannot afford to field a team and therefore “UH needs to close the financial black hole that is football.”


The problem is that UH is one of those schools about which UD has written for years on this blog. The flower shirt people cannot think of anything else to do. A university is a football team or it is nothing. It doesn’t matter if its team is nothing – an entity that gathers at an empty stadium a few times a year to throw a ball. That thing – that empty team in an empty stadium – is the university.

Since nothing comes of nothing, students are forced to be the something that keeps paying to top up the tank.

At some point, the nothingness of university football becomes metaphysical.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?

If [the University of Hawaii] loses its ninth consecutive game of the season at Aloha Stadium in a near-empty area, did it actually happen?

“Plagiarism within a university and a higher education system reflect[s] poorly on Nevada, which is desperately trying to improve its reputation on many fronts, including education.”

Of course this local columnist is right that the state of Nevada has a jaw-droppingly bad ed rep; but she errs in assuming even a non-desperate effort to change this.

UD has for years followed the states of New Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, and Nevada (UD‘s Big Four) as they run their primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools into the ground.

Not one of these states seems to know how to run schools, much less care about running them.

Nevada in particular – entertainment capital of the world – is all about building The World’s Largest 800 Million Dollar University Football Stadium and stuff like that. It’s clear the state doesn’t even know what universities are. Or – again – care. The center of its world is Las Vegas.

Las Vegas. Nevada’s tax base relies on drawing stupid people to the state, and it’s done a bang-up job. State leaders understand there’s, uh, negative utility in drawing smart people.

So who can be surprised that no one there knows what plagiarism is, much less knows that you shouldn’t do it? The same local columnist expresses amazement that the University of Nevada Las Vegas for years housed a high-profile professor who has been loudly called out as a plagiarist since “his 1990 doctoral dissertation at [the] University of Toronto.” She seems surprised that UNLV seemed disinclined to do anything about this guy until the Chronicle of Higher Ed did a big story about him. A commenter at Retraction Watch notes:

UNLV management were probably too busy hushing up scandals with the basketball team to worry about something as trivial as plagiarism on a massive scale…

The columnist seems just as surprised that the Nevada System of Higher Education “copied large sections of [a Brookings Institution] draft report and submitted it to legislators as NSHE’s own proposal.” Why not?

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