2/19/2012: I tend to focus on what Pat Kilkenny’s weird baseball obsession is costing UO in dollars. Kilkenny got the UO Foundation to loan athletics millions to build “PK Park” on a 6.25% ten year balloon loan, pledging future media revenues as collateral.
But as Richard Sundt notes, the corruption is not just about the money:
17 February 2012
Dear Athletic Director Mullens, Coach Horton, UO President Berdahl, Interim Provost Davis, Senate President Kyr, ASUO President Eckstein:
I read in today’s RG a headline about UO baseball: “Ducks roll up frequent-flier miles to open.” In this report Adam Jude writes that the “unranked” team will be going to Honolulu to open a series of games that will require Duck players to travel 9000 miles in 12 days. These student-athletes will be accumulating more than frequent class absences (normally about 2-3 days per week during the season); they will accumulate a complete absence from classes for one week and five days. If this is not a travesty of education, I don’t know what is. More to the point: It is sham education.
This university and all others in the country that allow sports programs to thrive on missing classes for twelve straight days —let alone for 2-3 days a week— should ask if they are not corrupting higher education. The persons complicit in downgrading academics are many, not only Athletic Directors and Coaches, but also Administration officials who wink at this, Faculty who do not speak up against the destruction of the University’s teaching mission (if it still exists, read Arum and Roksa, Academically Adrift), and Faculty in the Intercollegiate Athletic who over the years, and most especially when the baseball program was re-instituted (even when I pointed out the sport’s frequent absence program), have not cared to address head-on the issues relating to the draining of classrooms for the benefit of athletics. When is this going to end?
Faculty, are your classes so unimportant, so devoid of content and originality that students can miss nearly two weeks and this doesn’t matter? What’s the deal? Or, can everything in your courses be done on-line, and if so, then let’s not waste time and money building more classrooms; we can even outsource teaching, and cut any number of positions (even yours) in the process. Or, just let the Jacqua Center do the teaching —what, in the hope that its staff possesses the same level of competency in your area of expertise as you do?
Where is UO’s Faculty Athletics Representative, Jim O’Fallon on this issue? UO is paying him $187,729 at a 0.5 FTE, plus expenses to protect our “student-athletes” from exploitation. But according to the NY Times columnist Joe Nocera, O’Fallon’s busy working for the NCAA infractions committee, making sure the “student-athletes” don’t get free textbooks. Because that would be an impermissible benefit. But it’s OK for UO to pay *him* to do the NCAA’s dirty work. Can anyone make sense of any of this?