A big price tag

The Gophers inappropriately paid $800,000 to not play football games.

Editorial board

Norwood Teague, the University of Minnesota Gophers athletics director, recently persuaded President Eric Kaler to pay the University of North Carolina — Teague’s alma mater — $800,000 to cancel a football series with the Tar Heels.

At a time where the athletics department, as well as the majority of the student body, is struggling to fund themselves, this is a highly inappropriate decision.

Coach Jerry Kill and Teague cited the reason for the decision was that “we have a young program, and we want our guys to have games in which they can build confidence.” Even if the cost was acceptable or if the Tar Heels were a particularly good team, this approach to running the Gophers displays a lack of appropriate priorities, as well as a complete disregard for testing relatively new players and building an experienced team. Rather than running away from challenges — or paying the equivalent of full-time tuition for 132 in-state students to make them go away — we should face obstacles head-on. In the long term, avoiding difficult games will not lead to a better team. How are we supposed to have faith in a team whose leadership disallows them from overcoming challenges? As students, are we not supposed to take risks and challenge ourselves?

There is a clear disconnect between the athletics department and University values. At a time when student debt is climbing nationally, what excuse do we have to spend such figures on superficial outlets, such as artificially changing our football team’s record? The University is foremost an educational institution, and if education is not its main priority, then we have lost touch with our roots in higher education, which is ultimately a failure on the part of those leading our institution.