The concept of dealerships lending cars to coaches in exchange for game tickets seems to be a reality at many large universities, as it is here at Minnesota. The practice, however, is yet another example of placing the athletics department far above everyone else.
The glam that surrounds athletics departments at institutions of higher education tends to outshine all other qualities of a university. Athletes are expected to perform on athletic playing fields and academic playing fields.
However, there is continuous, sometimes slight, separation from the rest of the student body. Whether it is preferential scheduling, grading, housing, financial aid or better food, student-athletes tend to be pampered.
Cars guaranteed under contracts to coaches further separates the worlds of sports and academia. Although the cars given to coaches, assistants and athletics administrators are part of their contracts, wouldn’t it be possible for other high-position University staff members also to have cars in their contracts? What about some of our prized celebrity professors?
The designated parking spots given to the higher-end positions in the athletics department also impose the thought that sports are valued higher than academics here at the University. Senior professors or staff members would love parking spots immediately in front of Murphy or Lind Hall. Professors who drive wait patiently for contract parking spots in the lots and garages closest to the buildings they teach in. Sometimes an ideal spot isn’t available for years.
It would be even more absurd if Garrison Keillor rolled up to teach his comedy writing course in a Cadillac Escalade. He seems like the ideal candidate if anyone is. He volunteers his time to teach the course, doesn’t cost the University any money other than for facilities and is a local and national celebrity. Why couldn’t the University work something out with a dealership for him?
Cars only contractually granted to employees in the athletics department shines a sick light on it.