Monday, November 24, 2003

King Kaufman
I just wrote the following letter to King Kaufman in responst to this column. Maybe he'll rpint some of it, maybe not, but i thought I'd share it here regardless.

Dear King,

While I appreciate anyone's rooting against the national favorites (ie, the Coyboys, Yankees, & Notre Dame), I think your rant celebrating ND's poor season is misguided.

You have been a fantastic proponant of reform in college athletics, so I would think Notre Dame would be one of your favorites!
--ND has direct presidential oversight of the athletic department,
--keeps the athletic department integrated with the university (as opposed to being a seperate entity with an independent budget as it is at almost every other school),
--embraced Title IX (and has subsequently excelled in women's sports with championships recently in soccer and basketball),
--continually enforces academic standards for atheletes higher than required by the NCAA,
--graduates atheletes in all sports (including revenue sports) at some of the highest rates in the country
-- doeas not maintain athletic dorms and has football & basketball players living in the same halls, eating at the same dining halls as their classmates, and
-- does not have easy athletic classes for atheletes.

It would seem that if these types of practices were adopted by the community of universities at large, it would constitute fairly major reform.

As for the NBC television contract, did you consider
-- that ND shares the money equally with the visiting team, meaning the Pac 10, ACC, Big 10, and Mountain West all shared in the money from the contract this year?
-- that ND uses all of the revenue it keeps from the NBC contact to fund need-based scholarships & financial aid at the school (and has since it began 10 years ago?)
-- that opposed to "mediocrity" (implied by your "Navy again" comment) ND hosted and played three teams that spent much of the year in the top ten (Washington State, USC, & Florida State) and another that spent most of the year ranked in the top 25 (Michigan State?)
-- that if NBC wasn't showing ("clogging the airways" with) ND games, we would instead get to see more NASCAR or infomertials (which is what is shown on Portland's KGW Saturdays when ND is not playing at home.)

ND being on NBC has simply meant six more games televised each year, with revenue distributed to every conference.

On the criticism that ND plays Navy on a regular basis, consider the history and benefits to the Naval Academy. During World War II, Notre Dame almost had to close as nearly the entire student body was called away to war. The Navy helped ND survive by using ND for temporary facilities. The University gave its word then that they would play Navy every year so long as Navy wanted to. Despite the fact that the Navy games have little to offer ND these days, ND has kept its word and honored that committment. Navy uses the money from playing ND (alternately, the money from the NBC contract in odd years and the money from the travelling "home" game in even years) to fund its entire athetic department. This saves US taxpayers a huge sum of money and allows the Naval Academy to compete at a D1A level.

Overall, I simply cannot support your assertion that what is bad for ND is good for college football. We all enjoy seeing parody, but ND has hardly hogged bowl appearances and championships for the last decade. I do agree that Notre Dame has been shockingly arrogant at times, but they also have been one of the few havens of college athletics where things are still done the right way. (Navy being another of the few havens of integrity in college sports.)

It's fine with me if you want to cheer against Notre Dame and even if you celebrate that in your column. I think it's absurd to pretend that those of us that like sports could maintain a pure lack of bias. I often root for one team over the other simply by my gut feelings against one of them. That's sports. And it's fun. What I do object to is your hypocrisy in writing one day in favor of integrity in college sports, then the next day writing that what's bad for ND is good for college sports. Those two positions simply don't jive.

Thank you for putting out five of the best written columns on sports every week!

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