Thursday, March 1, 2012

Yesterday Continued

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An article at today's NY Times website made reference to a shamed men's basketball coach at  Binghamton University having been terminated in 2009 with a $1.2 million dollar buyout.  Even when people are bad, we show our respect for the sport by paying big bucks to get rid of them.  That was at the same time that the economy was tanking. 

Perhaps expectedly, Binghamton's broke an admission record that fall (see here). After all, they had, the previous March, made it into the NCAA March Madness tournament. Rather than being rejected by potential students because of its shameful involvements, it apparently was adored for its athletic success.

I view this as just another indication of our society valuing sports prowess over academics

Another example is the latest news that SUNY Albany is going to build a new football stadium.

On February 18 2012, Pete Iorizzo of the Times Union wrote a column entitled "UAlbany gets priority right" (available here). In it he debunks several arguments against the building of a new facility. In the article he states "And make no mistake: This is a terrific deal for UAlbany. The school gets a new football stadium and only has to raise $6 million to pay for it. UAlbany isn't even responsible for the debt on the bonds. The state is." The price tag has been quoted at $24 million. By my arithmetic, $18 million must be paid by the state taxpayers. Right there we have two of our culture's biggest flaws: an excessive respect for sports over academics, and the feeling that an expense is more acceptable if the taxpayers pay for it.

Regarding the taxpayer burden, just a little info here: I can't speak for current practice, but for years my school operated on the basis that given a choice for a $5 expense that was state-aidable at $3, reducing district expense to $2, vs a direct $3 expense for the identical item through a source that was not state-aidable, the district chose the $5 expense.

With misguided priorities regarding athletics vs academics, and a distorted sense of fiscal responsibility, no wonder we are falling behind in the world.

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