Gopher athletics a drain

by Willard B. Shapira

Congratulations to The Minnesota Daily on its Jan. 25 top story, âÄúAthletics finances: a balancing act,âÄù about intercollegiate athletics at the University of Minnesota. ItâÄôs too bad the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press and the broadcast media donâÄôt have the guts to do likewise. In my view, intercollegiate athletics are a total waste of time and taxpayer money. The noted author and broadcaster Frank Deford once called them âÄúa cesspool.âÄù They have nothing to do with education and, more often than not, bring dishonor to a school due to misbehavior by alleged student-athletes. When I read that the financially-challenged athletics department has received some $26 million from the University in the past five years, (meaning, I presume, taxpayer money) I fully realized that the athletics department really is not a part of the University as Athletics Director Joel Maturi contends. It has become a separate commercial enterprise that has misappropriated and misused the Gopher brand. The sooner the University brain trust and our elected government officials realize all of this and take appropriate action, the better. It will drive the brain-dead alumni wild as well as the self-appointed, de facto âÄúassistant athletics directorsâÄù (read: heavy financial contributors) and some in the media. However, IâÄôm for the University dropping intercollegiate sports entirely and spending more money on intramurals, which would serve all students and faculty while remaining competitive on a more grounded level . Why canâÄôt the University sell or rent TCF Bank Stadium to the Vikings? Or Williams Arena and Mariucci Arena to the Minnesota State High School League? That could solve our stadium problems once and for all. In sum, itâÄôs way past time for the tail to stop wagging the Gopher, and itâÄôs time to bury the not-so-golden Gopher in its hole for good. Ski-U-Bah! Finally, I wish a full and speedy recovery to President Bob Bruininks, with whom I have disagreed vehemently on many issues such as the role of intercollegiate athletics at the University. Willard B. Shapira, University alum