jags - I really, really question whether football at UVa makes a whole lot of money. Very, very few football programs (think Michigan, Texas, Florida, Florida State and Notre Dame) actually make money. A whole cadre of schools, UVa included, chase the holy grail that is football - hoping to get into that scant top echelon. Most fail. So a more accurate statement might be that UVa football in its best years (making it to a big money bowl) makes some money, and that in most years, it scrapes by. UVa - like many other major universities, thinks it needs football to attract alum dollars and (a friend is a consultant for the athletic department) to build a national brand. One may argue that the football team in this regard throws off indirect benefits to the brand and stature of the school, but that line of inquiry will always be of speculative nature - one, however, that the school must be buying into to a certain extent because they are making both the financial and institutional (i.e., letting really marginal students in) investment in the game. (Football is also the great testosterone attractor - it brings males to the school, a not to be ignored factor in college admissions). Again, I am not picking on UVa - other schools are doing the same - but as public universities ago, the median educational and skill level of students is incredibly high, and football and its negative externalities are frankly out of place. Again, don't ask me - ask (as you can see above) what the serious students at UVa (and that describes 90% of the student body) thinks when they come across these guys in class. It is not so much that they are taking a place from a legitimate student (although they are), it is just that it is demoralizing to see that the University, as regards these guys, is more of a baby-sitter than an educator, and that whatever the players get in return, the miasma of exploitation is rife. Older alums can recall the days when George Allen was the UVa starting QB (yes, the senator) and the team was 1-10. And Allen was considered an awful student. He, however, is a Nobel prize winner compared to the majority of recruits today. Again, unfair to pick on UVa - but from a parents perspective - who hears and to a considerable degree buys into the notion that UVa is an elite school - the athletic department's antics sure run counter to that notion.
UVa is not a corporation, investors don't get to vote for the management. It's either you give money or no. You have to be committed and passionate towards your school if you want to give money. I will always be giving money, because:
not giving money is always worse than giving money, regardless of the direction UVa management takes.
I think some of the posters are stretching a few points in order to support their argument.
First, while I am not a George Allen supporter, he wasn't/isn't the idiot that some claim here. While it is true that he was a mediocre player on some pretty awful football teams (I attended a lot of those games and the highlights often were the UVA punting plays), he did receive a BA with distinction in History and also got his JD from the UVA Law School.
Second, I think that some underrate the impact that football and mens basketball have on the University in general, and the athletic department in particular. At Virginia, the fact is that these programs pay nearly all of the bills for all of the other sports. Furthermore, the fundraising (and application) benefit is direct and very easily measured as better football and basketball teams definitely have a strong and positive impact on fundraising and total number of applications (and this is true for probably every Division I program in the country). While not all schools make money, the University's football and basketball teams are a strong net cash flow generator and definitely increase the value of the brand regionally, nationally, and sometimes even internationally.
Third, the quality of some student-athletes at Virginia may leave a lot to be desired....until you compare them to the student-athletes at comparable schools. When compared to Princeton or other elite privates, Virginia probably comes out looking pretty bad in terms of the academic quality of the average student-athlete, particularly in the major sports of football and basketball. However, compared to truer comps (Cal-Berkeley, UCLA, Michigan, UNC-CH), then the quality is pretty similar. And when compared to traditional sports powers (Florida State, Penn State, etc.), then the average Virginia student-athlete is likely much stronger. Personally, I'd probably love to see Virginia be as effective as Stanford with great academics and great teams, but the school is definitely broadening and improving its academic competencies with recent sharp improvements in sports like baseball and tennis (which have little to no fundraising or application benefit).
Fourth, with regard to the University's national athletic standing, the annual Sears Cup measures athletic success across an entire athletic program. Virginia was doing well in this and ranked 13th last year, but slipped to 26th this year as the calculation method was changed and the benefit of success in some sports was reduced (eg, lacrosse). This latest ranking has UVA as 4th in the ACC which is not great, but not 50th either.
Fifth, a college experience is about more than just great academics and Virginia has decided that big-time athletics is a part of the college experience that they offer. While some football players certainly have little to contribute academically, they do make a contribution to the school. I remember being in school with some incredibly smart kids in the Engineering school, but for the life of them, they couldn't string two sentences together when it came time to write a paper. One could say that their one-dimensional skills made them unworthy of admittance to the U, but I would disagree as they were able to make a strong contribution in their own way. Remember, part of college admissions is about putting together a class and, like it or not, that includes athletes. So, while there certainly are some students who academically don't measure up to the rest of the student body, they are still able to make a contribution to the school and the environment. Despite the many flaws in the process, Virginia does as good or better job than just about any school in the country at this balancing act.
I think the above post is well put. At the end of the day, the relevance of athletics to how 'elite' UVA is is minimal, if at all there. Athletics, after all, are entertainment, and are non critical to UVA's success as an academic institution- a public one at that. The top students still make it in regardless of the athletes, while some of the mediocre applicants are forgone.
I did want to add that I did attend a school in UVa's conference (ranked considerably higher than Uva)and competed often against UVa, on an athletic scholarship - and was an All American a few times. My brother, an equal if not better athlete, was a professor at UVa. am well aware of the pressures of Division 1 athletics and am not a naive neophyte. But I think it outrageous the degree to which universities cater to (and lower standards for) athletes. It just "up-ends" what a university should be. Tough, tough situation for University presidents - who know deep down that athletics (most often football but other sports as well) as practiced at the Div. 1 level are incredibly corrupting. But the social pressures on them are immense. Any reason to believe that George Welsh (former coach) and Al Groh are anything other than fine men who do well in a tough and demanding job? Of course not. But the fact remains that if they win, they are perhaps the most powerful people on campus - which makes so little sense to me. I hear the rationalizations - athletics are only a part of the campus experience- etc., but really, when viewed from the perspective of the average student and faculty member trying to increase the quality of scholarship, such attempts to minimize the beast that is football (and some other sports) really don't make sense. And again, I really like sports...
why don't you go to the duke forum and complain about coach k then?
you don't think the same thing happens at the "ranked considerably higher than UVa" school? I mean afterall, maybe it was athletics that got you and your brother into duke. just because duke has an overall significantly worse athletic program than UVa doesn't mean that this stuff doesn't happen there.
The facts are that everytime the football team plays at Scott Stadium, the crowd is 60,000+. Every time. Yes, its unfortunate that not all football players can be geniuses and all stars like tiki and ronde, but atheletes do get priority spots (at all schools), and thats the way to world goes. I think its something we just have to learn to live with - I know I have.
jags, Go easy on the comparison of athletic departments with Duke-Duke ranked 8th in the latest annual Sears Cup athletic ranking. Virginia ranked 26th. Duke football may be pathetic (not sure they could win the Ivy League), but most of the rest of their teams are pretty competitive.
Re the impact of athletics on a school, Coach K is every bit as powerful and well-compensated as any other individual at Duke. And frankly, he is worth it when you consider the huge positive impact that he has had in terms of raising the school's national profile (with large increases in applications and alumni donations to the school). Same was true with George Welsh at Virginia. Does anyone honestly think that Scott Stadium and the UVA football program would look anything like it does today (60,000 seats, lights, national TV games, etc.) without all of the winning that Welsh's teams did in the 80s and 90s??? This creates a strong vibe and electricity on the grounds of the University which certainly was not there during the 60s and 70s.
How much alumni giving at Duke or Virginia can be traced back to Coack K or Coach Welsh? Hard to say exactly but the positive impact that both have had on their respective school is obvious when you check the giving records and the respective capital campaigns of each school. Given this, the value proposition of a few questionable admits is actually pretty good. Do all deserve to be there academically? No way, but that does not mean that they can't make a contribution to the overall life of the school.
Jags, I swear I was ready to write an irate post back at mam but then I read yours and you stole some of my thunder. But...I am still a tad incensed. Mam, I love how you focus on football players at UVa, because of course you can't compare them to the "genius" players Duke gets for their annual 0-8 ACC seasons. The Duke players may be better in the classroom, but they make for a gameday atmosphere at the delapidated Wallace Wade stadium about as exciting as a funeral. I'm pretty sure the nerdy "Cameron Crazies" are locked in their rooms on Saturday either doing absurd amounts of homework or taking shots of whiskey because they are depressed that they live in Durham. But of course, let's not talk about Blue Devil basketball. Coach K and his mafia of Dawkins, Wojo, and other Duke communists can get a brick with a negative IQ through the doors at your "ranked considerably higher than UVa" institution. Bobby Hurley had an SAT score that didn't break 1000, and I'm sure Sheldon "statutory rape" Williams wasn't exactly a scholar either. Let us also not forget that these players all major in "sociology" and take courses at the local community college for 2 years where their credits transfer over. What a joke. To not criticize your school in this respect is an ignorant move. However, although I just bashed the caliber of student on your basketball team, I acknowledge the pride and enthusiasm the squad brings to the school. That is exactly what sports do: they get students and alums excited about their school. Football and basketball games got me through tough academic weeks at UVa, as I knew that we would be competitive and the gameday atmosphere would be great. If we did a "better job" like Princeton and other Ivy's, our team would have as much of a chance to compete in the ACC as Duke does on the gridiron. I just graduated from UVa, and unbelievably I landed a job in New York even though my school isn't ranked as high as the University of New Jersey at Durham. Every time the HOOS are playing in football and basketball, I will be watching at a sports bar to cheer them on. I don't care if they all aren't great students, because they make THE UNIVERSITY better as a whole.
Didn't the Sears cup also change its ranking system recently that caused UVA to fall? I believe they started placing less emphasis on the sports outside of BBall and Football or less emphasis on lax or something like that
Ironically enough sv3a, football is actually the only Division I sport that is not included in the (Sears) Director's Cup rankings. This is because there is no NCAA football tournament and points are only awarded in the directors cup based on performance in the NCAA tournament. UVA finished lower this year because the points awarded for lacrosse (both men's and women's) were cut in half, and our #2 ranked women's lacrosse team lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament(to a Princeton team that was seeded waaaaaaay too low). Also I believe one of the swim and dive teams finished lower than normal. Additionally last year both tennis teams, the baseball team, the women's lacrosse team and the men's soccer team all had disappointing results in the NCAA tournament after stellar regular seasons. All of those programs are on the rise, had young teams last year and they should fare better next season. There is also a chance we could get some Men's Basketball points next year. All and all the future is bright for UVA athletics, and it is remarkable in my opinion the job Craig Littlepage has done.
The one program where things aren't looking up is the football program. Ironically this is because coach Groh is having a hard time getting the kids he wants into UVA. UVA is one of the few big time football schools where recruited athletes not only have to get through the NCAA clearinghouse but through the admissions department. To be sure, most of the kids on the football team could not have gotten in without football. But Coach Groh is pretty much in crisis mode now after 8 of their 24 recruits this year and not going to be in Charlottesville this fall due to academic issues.
It should also be noted that Men's Lacrosse team was probably the most dominant team in any NCAA sport last season. The team finished 17-0 and only played in one close game. Regardless, the lacrosse team earned less directors cup points for their championship season than the 21st place women's golf team. I think it's fair to say the Directors cup is a flawed metric. Let's just agree that both UVA and Duke have outstanding athletic programs across the board. If anyone is interested you can view the final Director's cup standing here: http://www.cstv.com/auto_pdf/p_hotos...06D1FinalStand
Mam is actually indeed profitable. Both the football team and the women's basketball team are profitable. The men's basketball team has had a rough financial go of things lately, but will probably be profitable with the opening of JPJ next season.
John Paul Jones arena itself is an excellent example of how the athletic program is beneficial to the university. The arena is being financed entirely through alumni donations (the largest coming from Paul Tudor Jones who named the arena after his father). There is no way that the money for this arena could have been raised if it wasn't for the existence of the men's basketball team. This fall alone JPJ is going to host a number of high profile entertainment events (WWE, Kenny Chesney, two DMB shows, Eric Clapton). These events are great for the students, and a financial boon for both the school and the Charlottesville community.
That's just one example of how the Athletic program benefits the school at large. There are plenty more. College athletics has plenty of problems that don't have obvious answers. But I am still glad for what the Athletic program is contributing to my experience here at the University.
The women's basketball team is profitable? Lol, how so?
Ironically this is because coach Groh is having a hard time getting the kids he wants into UVA. UVA is one of the few big time football schools where recruited athletes not only have to get through the NCAA clearinghouse but through the admissions department.