Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Which way Will he go?

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Today's Albany Times Union, in its short column entitled "Rodger's Quick Take", quotes WNYT's sports anchor Rodger Wyland with the following:
At some point UAlbany men’s basketball coach Will Brown might need to take the next step in his coaching career. If you have an opportunity to coach in a bigger conference for more money, you might have to consider leaving the Great Danes after 14 seasons. If it’s the right place for Brown and his family, good for Brown. He has earned it. Only Brown will know if Fordham or George Mason are the right fits. Bottom Line: When you get to the NCAA Tournament five times and you get there three straight years, you are going to have opportunities. At some point, if you want to coach at the next level, you have to take one of them.
This paragraph epitomizes a key flaw in our culture.

Please note that Will Brown looking for more lucrative employment is not part of that flaw. As an individual, he is free to do that. Maybe even obligated to his family to do that.

The flaw is that UAlbany, according to USA Today (see here) is already paid $295,000 as a base salary, with possible bonuses up to $233,000 more. For details, his contract is posted here. Can you find me any educator at UAlbany that has a comparable salary? Or comparable incentives? 

UAlbany is a university, which, to the best of my knowledge, means that its key role is to educate. Has Will Brown been one of the most successful educators at UAlbany?  Some people might claim that to be the case, but I for one would want to make sure that he is compared to educators who hand-pick students who get to attend at no cost to themselves.

In the back of my mind I suspect that this column might not have rankled me so much had it revolved around the value of Will Brown to UAlbany, how he and the university worked well together, and things would be best if he remains at UAlbany. Rodger Wyland seems to be placing Will Brown's future above that of UAlbany and its players/students.

To help put this in perspective, here is information about a fee that students pay (see here):
Intercollegiate Athletics Fee$275.50 for 12 or more credits, $206.63 for 9-11 credits, $137.75 for 6-8 credits. Funds the intercollegiate sports programs including team transportation, uniforms, etc. This fee is mandatory for undergraduate students taking 6 or more credits except those who do not have access to the campus, such as students in our Overseas Academic Programs.
The mere existence of this fee confirms that intercollegiate athletics is not self-funding, so anyone who thought that is, to put it simply, wrong. No matter how hard I looked I could not find any reference to the "Mathematics Department Fee". There are other fees, but the one the Intercollegiate Athletics Fee is by far the largest, with the exception of an insurance fee for students studying abroad and for international students.

Recently Norman Chad (aka "The Couch Slouch"), wrote a column that includes this;
Actually, why do universities even have athletic departments? That’s like an auto body shop having a produce aisle.
Now, if a college has a physical education department, that’s a different ballgame.Because, indeed, mind and body are important, but universities should prioritize those needs for the bulk of its students rather than a handful of illusionary student-athletes. What’s a greater achievement, having 15,000 undergraduates swimming three times a week or bringing in a couple of basketball recruits who can average 15 points a game?
If Maryland, say, established the nation’s most extensive intramural program, that would be athletic excellence, in my view. I would be a proud Terp.
I find Mr. Chad's comments relevant, in that UAlbany does not have a Phys Ed department. For that matter, UAlbany's website includes the following:
Physical Education Courses: Although the University no longer offers physical education courses for credit, students may apply toward their degree a maximum of six credits of physical education activity credits. These and credit for courses in coaching, recreational studies, etc., will ordinarily be designated "non-liberal arts and sciences" credits.

Evidently, UAlbany has devalued Phys. Ed. while it has gone Division I and has a basketball coach as one of its highest paid employees.

Oh, by the way, UAlbany's football coach has a base salary of $230,000. He does work with more student-athletes than the basketball coach does, yet gets paid less. Makes this morass even stranger than it already was.

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