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Posted by: Coreyo34

In today’s Charlotte Observer, an editorial appears slamming the University of North C*rolina for the extraordinary amount of money that new head football coach Butch Davis will receive for his efforts.

He will earn an average of $1.86 million a year over seven years — not including bonuses and deferred compensation. Here’s how that shakes out: His salary will be $286,000 per year, plus $25,000 for expenses, plus at least $1 million a year in “supplemental” income that the contract states UNC will pay, along with generous bonuses.

There’s more. He’s expected to sign a $250,000-a-year media contract and a $150,000-a-year apparel contract. In addition, his contract’s retention and buyout clauses are so generous they required permission from the UNC Board of Governors to violate the rules.

That’s outrageous. That money has nothing to do with the primary missions of a public university: teaching, public service and research.

Don’t blame Mr. Davis. He’s an experienced coach, and he negotiated a great deal. Instead, blame the leadership at Chapel Hill — specifically the chancellor and board of trustees. Blame the UNC system Board of Governors, too, for going along. For the second time in three years that board has ignored its own sensible rules prohibiting excessive buyouts of coaching contracts. The first was in 2003, to hire Tar Heel basketball coach Roy Williams.

Why does this issue matter so much? Big-money college sports exploits young athletes. It wastes precious resources and nurtures impropriety (just look at Alabama). It also undermines public and political support for academic needs — which North Carolina can ill afford.

This final paragraph is the buttress upon which the paper’s argument relies.

Let’s analyze it one sentence at a time:

Big-money college sports exploits young athletes.

Whether or not this statement is accurate, “big-money college sports” are irrelevant to the Observer’s stance. That which is relevant is UNC’s athletic department, and whether or not its big-money college sports programs have exploited young athletes, and whether or not the pay of its head football coach will somehow exploit young athletes.

To my knowledge, there is little historical basis upon which to criticize UNC’s athletic department for exploitation of young athletes.

It wastes precious resources and nurtures impropriety (just look at Alabama)

Again, generalities are irrelevant. The Observer must consider UNC specifically because, much as some may lament to admit, UNC is an atypical public university, and in a very good way. Or rather, Alabama is not in the same atmosphere as UNC in any way, shape or form aside for the fact that both are land-grant universities in Southern states. Alabama has a long history of bending and breaking the rules with regards to football. UNC does not. So I pose the question once again: Can the Observer prove that a head coach’s pay will directly result in impropriety?

Absolutely not.

To the contrary, Butch Davis is widely credited for cleaning up a program that had been encumbered with impropriety–the University of Miami–and therefore, the large amount of money Bowles and Baddour have opted to grant him ought to be considered a wise investment in ensuring the future purity of the program.

It also undermines public and political support for academic needs — which North Carolina can ill afford.

The Observer makes this statement without any evidence to support it. That’s intellectually lazy.

Certainly, the dinosaurs in academe–and they’re not all dinosaurs, of course–will lament this move and compare Davis’ pay directly to that of a tenured professor. But that would be unwise and unfair and, largely, illogical.

Politically, this move is, in fact, wise. The masses are happier with a better football program, and the politicians will certainly take advantage of that come election season. It’s hard for a politician to score points by donning the school’s colors when the team isn’t cracking .500.

Overall, this editorial from the Observer is shoddy at best, as its conclusions are unsubstantiated and ill-considered.

Of course, this is the same paper that once employed one Greg Doyle, so I suppose this is what we ought to expect.

Additionally, the Observer itself has much to gain from a strong UNC football team because as the program’s stock rises, presumably the prospect of selling newspapers (and advertisements in print and online) will increase as well…

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From Duke Sports Information:

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For the second year in a row, Duke University senior Rachel-Rose Cohen of the Duke University Women’s Soccer team has been selected ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America, which was released on Tuesday by the College Sports Information Director’s of America (CoSIDA).

Last season, Cohen earned third team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honors and this year she was named to the second team.

A product of San Diego, Calif., Cohen led the Blue Devils on the defensive end starting all 21 contests, while leading the Blue Devils to nine shutouts. Over her four years with the Blue Devils, Cohen led Duke to 41 shutouts and 52 victories.

The 5-4 defender owns a 3.81 grade point average and is majoring in biological anthropology and anatomy. Cohen is a three-time ACC Honor Roll selection and has made the Dean’s List at Duke five different times.

This announcement comes in the same week that the captain of the men’s cross country team was named one of 32 Rhodes Scholars, an unbelievable feat, and something for which everyone to be proud of.

In recent weeks, student-athletes at Duke have come under tremendous scrutiny.

They have been taken to task for having standardized test scores that are below those of the average Duke student.

One writer, Kristin Butler of The Chronicle, called the discrepancy a “disgrace.”

Ms. Butler’s condescension and arrogance aside, her opinion is certainly not a rare one among members of the student body or the alumni base as a whole.

It is an opinion, however, that is counter to that which Duke University’s mission.

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When representatives of the Duke admissions staff make presentations around the country, they speak of Duke’s student body as an orchestra.

An orchestra, of course, is multifaceted–there are clarinets, trumpets, oboes, flutes, drums, saxophones, and so forth.

This diversity leads to a beautiful sound, and allows the individual members of the group to make a wider array of music at a higher quality.

If people like Ms. Butler had their way, the orchestra would be comprised of a single instrument, and the sound would be quite dull indeed.

After all, Duke University is the home to individuals with all sorts of talents. But those various talents can only be of worth to others if they are appreciated and shared, which leads to the development of weaknesses and the development of strenghts.

This is what higher education is all about.

Ms. Butler would deny those students the chance to participate in the Duke community–social, academic, artistic, athletic and otherwise–because of a test score.

Now that’s a disgrace.

I’ll never understand why people like flogging a horse with no heartbeat.

But I digress. The writer, Kristin Butler, opines as follows:

Truly, the ability to hit a golf ball or pull an oar is not a qualification for admission to a top-10 university like Duke; it says next to nothing about a student’s willingness to participate in our academic community.

Administrators know this; a December 2000 report to the Board of Trustees notes that students admitted after intervention from the development or athletics offices “are less well prepared academically and personally to contribute to the intellectual atmosphere at Duke.”

To be fair, administrators are quick to counter that student-athletes graduate at a rate of 94 percent (which is the highest in the ACC). We should all be so lucky to benefit from athletes’ access to preferential course scheduling, personal tutors and summertime study.

This report’s point is well taken: We shouldn’t continue framing this debate in terms of an applicant’s ability to graduate. As Dean of Admissions Christoph Guttentag notes, that’s only at issue in a minority of cases.

Rather, we need to set a much higher standard, one that thinks about student-athletes’ rightful place in the academic and cultural landscape of this University.

To this end, consider that recruited athletes are not only accepted at a different time and by a different standard than the rest of us; some of them are housed, scheduled and even fed apart from their peers.

Is it any surprise, then, that the Lacrosse ad hoc Review Committee noted that the “strict discipline of training and play enforces community” and “social cohesion” among varsity athletes?

And in the aftermath of the rape accusations, we’ve all heard that the “negative aspects of… cohesion is a serious problem that requires resolution.”

So as we define our “resolution” to that “serious problem,” I hope we’ll consider the violence done to our campus culture and to our reputation by these admissions preferences; they are an affront to our academic mission, and they privilege factors entirely unrelated to a student’s ability to succeed.

Just as importantly, I hope that we can come to understand what a recent Chronicle editorial called the “conflict that exists because Duke is both a top-10 academic and Division-I athletic school” for what it really is: a deep social and intellectual divide catalyzed by policies that privilege non-academic credentials above academic ones.

Whew. That was painful. Thoughts before we draft a rebuttal?

Here are a few articles to quench your curiosity about what’s going on at Coach K’s Leadership Conference this week.

> News & Observer

> Associated Press

Associate Athletic Director Chris Kennedy, a long-time member of the Duke Athletic Department, penned the following column in today’s Chronicle.

Kennedy is defending the role of athletics in the University, and he does an admirable job of it:

Not many would deny that athletic participation can play an important role in one’s educational experience and in the life of an institution, but few would also deny the danger, for the individual and for the institution, of an athletic program that becomes so fixed on winning above all else that it loses sight of its proper role in the mission of the university. The problem of the definition of this role is much, much older than intercollegiate athletics in America. The “debate” is, in fact, ancient. In the Republic (III, xvii), Plato talks about the value of athletics in training those who are to be the guardians of the republic, as long as athletics are kept in balance with the other elements of their education. The answer, then, appears to be simple: balance. The execution is the hard part.

Go read the whole thing.

Dr. Allan Friedman and Dr. Henry Friedman of the Duke Brain Tumor Center published a letter to the editor in today’s Chronicle as a response to a piece by two Duke professors lamenting the place of sports in college.

They write, in part:

Team sports teach students the advantages of working as a team, the need to work together to collaborate for a common goal, the necessity to make sacrifices to achieve that goal, the encouragement each member of a team receives to do their best and equally importantly the need to support the team members when things are not going well. Moreover, we have been fortunate to work on a daily basis with an extraordinary group of female varsity athletes as we mentor them for careers in medicine. These young women face amazing pressures to balance their academic and athletic demands and when they emerge from four years at Duke they are prepared to not only be successful in medicine but to ultimately be leaders in their respective medical disciplines.

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Er, at least he did in March of this year. This is worth revisiting, however, given all of the recent clamoring with regards to Duke’s commitment to football.

I take athletics very seriously, and I was attracted to Duke in no small part by the combination of the high quality of its athletics with the strong sense of values that circumscribes that program.


In a year that has seen a fair amount of negative publicity at Duke’s expense, the Athletic Department has wisely advised its student-athletes to be leary of that which they post on websites and instant messenger profiles, according to a story in Wednesday’s Chronicle. Said Chris Kennedy, the senior associate director of athletics:

Our basic rule is don’t do anything to embarrass yourself, your team or the University. The message wasn’t don’t participate [in social networking sites]. It was just don’t do anything to embarrass Duke.

Last spring, Northwestern University was red-faced after multiple photos of its women’s soccer team surfaced on a website designed to do just that–post photos of college athletes behaving in a manner uncharacteristic of on-field performance. The activities are not necessarily illegal, but they are not exactly in line with the character a sports program of athletic department wants to create or exude.