The Curmudgeonly Professor has had much time on his hands to worry about everything he could possibly worry about. He has also had time to ponder some major events that are part of our every day lives. Today's burning question is this: Why are college football and basketball coaches multimillionaires while teachers of advanced physics and cancer researchers and virtually every other academic faculty member mere paupers, relatively speaking? The answer, based on nearly seven decades of careful observation and experience is as follows: First, there are two Kingdoms in a university. The first Kingdom is the Magic Kingdom, the Sports Kingdom. The Sports Kingdom is presided over by multimillionaire coaches. Football coaches who teach young men how to beat each other up while moving a little ball up and down a 100 yard field generate more money and fill larger stadiums than do English teachers. Basketball coaches who teach young men how to put a small round ball through a small net hoop generate more donor support and funds for the university than do economics professors, of which I was one for 45 years. The Sports Kingdom has increasingly become a Kingdom of posh new practice facilities, luxurious locker rooms, multi-tiered press boxes and luxury suites, giant media screens, and increasing numbers of coaches, one for each different function on a team.
The Academic Kingdom, however, is far, far away from the Sports Magic Kingdom. While the Sports Kingdom is funded, financed, and royally treated by money donors and legislators, legislators, during my nearly 70 years of association with academia, are notoriously stingy with faculty salaries and faculty raises. I have heard the same stories for 70 years, namely, that academicians don't work hard enough, that they teach too little, that they have long vacations, and that they need to double up their teaching and work harder to earn a few shekels that we, the purse string guardians of the legislature, are so generously willing to give them. As long as they behave themselves and work harder to earn their money. Instead of rewarding those who have the responsibility of educating our future leaders and scientists and teachers, legislators, some governors, and other policy makers make every effort they can make to ensure that college academicians are not going to make more than their current, often paltry, salaries. Thus, universities have increasingly hard times hiring the best scientists and teachers, and universities being unusually punished by myopic politicians watch as their best teachers and scientists march out the door.
I'm not sure while all of this came to a boil this morning. I suppose because BYU's coach left for Virginia for a five year salary of more than 3 million. More power to him. That's the way the market works. These are the lessons we want our young athletes to learn. Money talks. Maybe I should just delete this before I push publish. Maybe not.