I’d Leave, Too!

OK, gotta discuss this. The highest paid state employee in all of Texas is…


How about Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, M.D.–President of The University of Texas Health Science Center?

…not even close.

Yep! Mack Brown. Head football coach of the University of Texas. He makes $5,161,500 per year from sales tax.

No. This man does not sell car insurance where new customers saved an average of 44%. Mike Sherman is the head coach at Texas A & M. He makes $2,200,000. Still ridiculous, but you get the point.

After moving from the ridiculous to the near-criminal, the University of Texas athletic (read: football) department has actually found a way to damage itself, and do it in a way that couldn’t happen from anywhere outside the “40 acres.” Texas A & M University is leaving the Big 12 Conference. That leaves a 9-team “Big 12” with a questionable future. It could be the end of the third largest football rivalry (116 games).

UT deserves the migraine. Not just as a football team, but as an institution.

You can’t start your own network, build in multiple unfair advantages (in a college setting!), and expect your local rival to stick around to start every season three to five major steps behind you in money, recruiting and success. A & M left because UT made them leave. If the Big 12 folds, it’s on Texas. UT needs to go independent if they’re going to act this way.

I’m sure I’ll go off when the “Field of 64” gets announced in March, but there was a time when athletics served a purpose on campuses. They weren’t money-making machines to feed on themselves. They were a way to entertain students on weekends, bring the student body together to bond, offer the athletically gifted a chance to improve their minds, meet people from other campuses through friendly rivalries.

Now? Well, none of that money from UT football is going to the foreign language faculty, let’s just say that.

This is why liberal arts colleges tend to play Division III football or just ignore the sport altogether. The Williams-Amherst rivalry clocks in at 124 games. But it’s not about football, per se, so you probably don’t know about it. The biggest? Lehigh and Lafayette have played 145 games! Who cares?

The people that matter: the students, alumni, staff, community members. There are no “T-shirt” Lafayette fans. Their pride is in their school, not their team.

Schools are ranked many inaccurate ways: the size of the endowment, the area of the country, graduates from 25 years ago…but this one program takes the cake. I like to ask the question, “Name one thing about the state of Nebraska other than the Cornhusker football program.” The most common answer? “Their basketball program.” Cute. Especially since the basketball team up there rarely gives reason for attention.

Nebraska has other colleges and universities. I attended one. One without a huge endowment. One with a good football program at times that served its intended purpose. The same can be said regarding hundreds of other campuses. It was a terrific experience. Every grammatical error in this blog is intended. I learned stuff, and the athletic teams provided excitement, entertainment and pride in a strong school that wasn’t home to the Cornhuskers.

You know, some of these football teams actually have schools associated with them…

About Paul T. Henley, Ph. D.

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