August 25, 2003
Chat, feedback, e-correspondence--whatever you call it, Tulanians were participating in droves throughout May and early June as feedback was posted on a number of opinion boards on the Internet. Following are excerpts from the 1,839 e-mails received as of June 17 by the university feedback board--1,053 from alumni, 198 from students, 28 from faculty, and 560 from community members.
The full comments can be found at http://feedback.tulane.edu. Lively feedback boards were also on the Ye Olde Green Wave Forum (www.sportsonly.com/boards/Tulane) and on the nola.com website.
I am very pleased to see that the board of trustees has decided that I-A athletics is in the best interest of Tulane today and for its long-term future. This is something I have watched play out at big and small schools across the country and is certainly a difficult topic for administrations in these current economic times. I firmly believe the decision to continue in I-A sets a threshold and expectation for performance that I am confident can be sustained over time by the students, faculty and staff as well as Tulane's alumni and friends.
The backlash that would occur from eliminating Division I-A football could be insurmountable for the university. I have spoken with alumni who say they will not be as generous when donating funds to the university if Division I-A football is terminated.... I don't think anyone would be able to stop the hemorrhaging that would occur to the university if Division I-A football were eliminated.
Tulane is weighing what is in the best interest of the university, but the discussion is limited to staying in or quitting. It would be far better served by studying the bigger picture with a greater purpose. There is a third option, one more principled and more productive, and it is to stay in and fight for a fair contest.
Tulane is a strong and proud university that has benefited greatly from its academic and athletics heritage. It is a source of pride no matter the record but even better when the performances of the last few years become the standard for excellence on our playing fields. Athletics, like academics, is an integral part of the entire package of producing the leaders of tomorrow. I am pleased to see we understand that at Tulane.
Do not let the athletic tail wag the academic dog.
I dare say, had the university not made the three major mistakes recognized by everyone who has considered the situation (de-emphasizing sports in the '50s, leaving the SEC in the '60s and tearing down the stadium in the '70s), Tulane might well be a major power to this day. Those decisions are water under the bridge, unfortunately, but the lesson from them is crystal clear: this is a one-way street, and for the most part whatever the university does cannot be reversed later.
As a member of the Arts and Sciences faculty, I am deeply disappointed to hear that the university will keep I-A level football. I am even more disappointed that the athletics department will be given four years to get its deficit down to ONLY $2 million. No other department would be allowed this deficit. Where have all these so-called supporters of the Tulane football program been for the last 10 years?
I am a double graduate of Tulane, A&S '93 and Law '98. I would like to see athletics given another few years to make itself more self-supporting. Some of the recent efforts should have been undertaken previously, and a greater effort made to reconnect to the community. This includes the student body (who are taken for granted) and existing alumni of ALL ages, locally and nationally. Shame on us as alumni and fans that we have come to this point; but now that we realize what we are up against, let's not give up so easily.
I am writing to express my disappointment with the current debate over the future of Tulane athletics. Tulane should strive to be at the forefront of every aspect of the collegiate world. Athletics play an important role in the education of many of Tulane's students and in the overall stature and perception of our university. Tulane should never allow itself to be a second- or even third-class player in any field.... I am confident that there is enough ingenuity in the halls of Tulane to find another way to compensate for the lack of athletics revenue than to cut or diminish a part of our university that means so much to the students and alumni.
First, I must commend you for the courage to embark on a review of the athletics department at Tulane which, like any other department at the university, is subject to normal review process for proper accountability and quality control. It is your job to exercise such quality control measures, and there cannot be sacred cows in carrying out your fiduciary obligations to exercise such controls at the university. Second, I commend you greatly for allowing your constituency the opportunity to dialogue with you openly in your search for facts and information in the process of looking for answers to solve the problem of shortfalls in the athletics department, including significant financial shortfalls. Contrary to views expressed by some people, this exercise has been very useful in many ways. I hope you found out from the responses that you have a vibrant and passionate group of alumni who truly love their university. If you can only figure out how to make them give money to the university as passionately as they talk about the university, then there will never be shortfalls anywhere in the university.
Tulane's ability to offer outstanding academics combined with a Division I-A sports program is to be commended. Rather than giving up this unique niche, niche, Tulane should be used as a successful example of where the two, sometimes conflicting agendas, coexist successfully. The combination of Division I-A sports and academics gives Tulane a special enhancement that the one program without the other would lose. I think it is better to be an academic leader in Division I-A than just another university that offers sports.
I wish I knew how many people, of those who have written in, have season tickets to any Tulane sport and how much they have given to the athletics fund. I venture to guess that I could retire if I asked for a dollar for each one that doesn't attend the games and doesn't give to the fund. The university's constituencies, the city and the state need to coalesce their support around Tulane regardless of the board's decision. Be thankful someone is willing to fight for financial solvency in all aspects of the university.
Tulane and its board need to marshal their resources to tackle the real challenge facing its athletics programs as well as other schools' programs: A Division I cartel that doesn't want to let too many kids into its sandbox. It's a fight that may need to go to court and Congress, if necessary. The question before the board now is whether it will lead that fight, or will it allow the riptide to pull the university into the relative obscurity that will follow after it's held out as the poster child of a quitter?
Y'all want to stay Division I-A? Go to a game!
As a Tulane alumnus and a professor at West Virginia University, I strongly urge the board to discontinue Division I-A football. Big-time sports programs have long been a cancer in America's universities, undermining our focus on academic excellence and sapping our financial base. Tulane has been guilty of squandering its limited resources in its vain attempt to compete in football. It is time to end this egregious waste of effort, emotion and resources.
Athletics completes a university. This should not be strictly a financial decision. If finances alone dictated keeping programs many of the programs offered through A&S would also be eliminated. The special courses of study that graduate less than 25 students would be eliminated by purely financial means. A university is more than a place of study; it is a community. The Tulane community is enriched by its athletics program, including a strong Division I-A football program.
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