Monday, February 05, 2007

People are catching on

The recent announcement from Ohio University that administrators have decided to cut four sports due to financial considerations and Title IX is, of course, generating some discontent among those affected. President Roderick McDavis and Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt answered questions last week in a town meeting-style event. Members of the affected teams (men's indoor and outdoor track, men's swimming, and women's lacrosse) were there when Hocutt explained OU was not Title IX compliant and that they lacked the resources to achieve compliance without cutting sports.
This brought the very smart question from a lacrosse player who asked (and I am paraphrasing) why the university shelled out big bucks for head football coach Frank Solich (who was fired from Nebraska and has run into some DUI and drug trouble--a hair sample shows he had the date rape drug GHB in his system upon his 2005 arrest) when they could use such money to fund a women's team. [Solich's salary is actually pretty paltry in comparison to some other DI coaches; his base salary is only $262,172.]
Regardless, the response was less than adequate:
"The investment into the sport of football was a decision that this institution made a couple years ago," he said. "It was a correct decision. We want to give every sport a chance for championships. A part of that is hiring talented coaches."
Every sport? It seems like they want to boost the football program and sacrifices will have to be made.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ohio, in fact, shelled out virtually nothing for Frank Solich, who then elevated the football program to unprecedented heights.

Ohio football, like it or not, draws 20,000 fans and has appeared numerous times on national television this season. Eliminate the head coaching position of the only sport that garners any attention outside the confines of Athens just to add an unwatched sport and a handful of scholarships?

That makes no sense, economically, popularly or logically.

The fact of it is that college sports don't pay for themselves under any circumstances. They are all expensive "fluff" - whether you are talking about wrestling, water polo, curling or the "revenue generating" sports of basketball and football.

Ohio is smart to eliminate programs if they are going through budget problems, and they are also smart to consolidate funds in sports that garner the most attention.

If men's programs are disporportionately eliminated, I suppose that is unfair, but it would be unfair to eliminate women's programs too. No school likes to see programs go away, because they never come back.

On the other hand, it isn't any college's job to ensure that it has an enormous slate of varsity athletics. Schools need to specialize: Pick 5 programs in addition to basketball and football (although in the case of some schools like Rice, Florida International, Troy, etc., football should probably go on the chopping block, too) in which to specialize.

As it is, some of the lesser sports (women's soccer, for example, or men's swimming), the talent gets very diluted over so many schools offering scholarships, and the product becomes horrible.

I think by streamlining varsity athletics to a relatively small number, a college puts itself in better position to win national amd conference championships in the sports it retains.