Apparently, the faculty at the University of Texas are little “miffed” by Brown’s 2 million dollar raise. Similar discussions (and dissent) are common-place as tensions between athletics and academics are constantly growing.
Allow me to offer my somewhat profound opinion. An opinion honed and probably valued as a product of both a liberal arts education and the athletic department. First and foremost, nothing does more to bring prestige or notoriety to an academic institution than an athletic program. Millions of people aren’t paying attention to the University of Florida or Alabama because of their excellent science programs. In an ideal world, maybe that would be the case. But this isn’t an ideal world. No, this is a country that loves it some football. Sports transcend race, gender, and class, and bring colleges and universities prestige and attention that they would otherwise not get.
Playing a football or basketball game on national television is basically a two hour infomercial for why you should attend that school. The game being played sells potential students, recruits, and the rest of America on that school. Schools also use that opportunity to showcase their academics, facilities, and other such highlights. Trust me, not a lot of people come to UConn because of the hustle and bustle of Storrs, CT.
And the more your team wins, the more national attention you get. In college programs, players come and go, it is a revolving door of sorts. The only constant is coaching, the better your coaching, the better your team does, the better your team does, the more national attention. Breakout that freshman year logic-course. Transitive property; better coaching, more national attention. And nothing is more likely to keep a great coach at your school, as is the case with Mack Brown, than a 2 million dollar raise.
Sure, John Q history professor isn’t making even close to that amount of money. But then again, he doesn’t pay his own salary. In the past few years, University of Texas football generated more than $6.6 million into academic programs. It comes down to popularity contest, which I’m sure the nerds in the science department will be upset about (Sorry, Chauncy. Yes it is high school all over again, isn’t it?). To borrow a quote from one of the greatest sports movies of all time, The Program:
Professor: This is not a football vocational school. It’s an institute for higher learning.
Coach Winters: Yeah, but when was the last time 80,000 people showed up to watch a kid do a damn chemistry experiment?
Exactly. Boo Yah.