Letter to the editor: WSU football needs to justify its existence


I was disappointed to receive the email from WSU President Kirk Schulz and Provost Dan Bernardo regarding the Sept. 29 football game against University of Southern California. Many in my department found the message quite disheartening. One can hardly imagine a clearer statement that — for at least this one day — football takes priority over the lives of faculty and students and the education and research that supposedly lie at the core of this university’s mission.

I understand the counterpoint: “It’s just for one day, it’s not that bad. And after all, we’re playing USC. It’s a huge game.” But the issue does not rest in the duration of the inconvenience. It rests in the fact that the lives of students and faculty can be disrupted in service to one non-academic program, and those disrupted individuals possess little to no avenue for recourse.

I am not so naive as to think that shouting into space will change a university culture that chose to value athletics over education. Instead, I focus on a more reasonable request. Can the football program please explain itself more effectively to the rest of the campus? Can it more openly justify its existence? Why are figures not published about how money generated by football supports building operations, or funds grants and scholarships?

The only stories I can find deal with the tremendous debt accrued by the program. If the program is not providing money to the rest of the university, why is it allowed to inconvenience and indebt a purportedly academic institution? Were someone to show me numbers that justify football’s existence on this campus, I could be convinced to tolerate the occasional inconvenience. Until then, I remain disappointed.