Chuck Landon: Reminder to Herd faculty: Athletics put MU on map
Let's distill the self-indulgent diatribe a few members of Marshall's faculty spewed toward the athletic department a week ago and expose the true motivation for the rhetoric.
A pay raise.
That's why a loose cannon or two with fuses shortened by self-righteousness stepped up to the faculty's bully pulpit and criticized Marshall's administration for giving its athletic department $11.6 million per year in university and student fees.
The dissident faculty members want the amount reduced.
So the faculty can have a raise.
Pour all the academia posturing into a tea kettle, put it on the stove and that's what it boils down to. ... a raise.
Never mind what athletics do for the university. Never mind the 15,000 fans that travel into Huntington for home football games. Never mind the thousands and thousands of Marshall fans across the Herd Universe that pin their pride on the success of MU athletics.
And, yes, never mind that the horrific airplane crash in 1970 and the subsequent rise from the ashes by the decimated football program hasn't only defined Marshall as a university, it has become the fabric of the school, the city and the Tri-State.
Never mind any of that.
The faculty wants a pay raise and doesn't care at whose expense.
What the critics don't realize is without athletics Marshall would be another Glenville State College. There would be no schools of medicine, engineering or pharmacy. No nationally acclaimed forensics department. No research grants.
Marshall would be a teacher's college.
That's why adding football has become a national trend.
Just ask Brian Noland.
When the former president of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission was hired as East Tennessee State's new president his first move was to resurrect the Buccaneers' football program.
During an on-going five-year span, 50 colleges are starting football programs. Students at Georgia Southern even voted to increase their fees so the football program could move up to Football Bowl Subdivision status.
It takes money. But it also generates revenue for the school and creates an economic impact on the whole community. Imagine how much money a Marshall home football game generates for local businesses.
Then, there are those new athletic facilities the dissidents criticized. The huge youth soccer regional that produced $12-15 million in revenue here recently is coming back in 2015 and '16. MU's new soccer complex is a major reason.
But the naysayers don't see that because their myopia is blinding.
Did Hollywood make a movie about Marshall's School of Business? Is it a coincidence the largest student organization on campus is the "Marshall Maniacs" at 1,400 members?
As for the $11.6 million in funding from the school, that ranks a lowly 13th among Conference USA schools. Would fans be satisfied if all of Marshall's 16 sports finished 13th in the standings? Instead, softball won the C-USA championship, football went to a bowl game in 2011 and men's basketball played for the league tournament title in 2012.
That's a tremendous return on a 13th-ranked investment.
The radicals don't care about any of those financial facts, however. They just want a raise.
My wallet bleeds.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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