The teachers are doing the schooling at Rutgers, and that is the way it is supposed to be. Dozens rightfully called for the firing of athletic director Tim Pernetti, who resigned Friday, proving there is an actual heartbeat among faculty members often bulldozed by the sports machine raging about America's campuses.It matters, notes William Dowling of the English and American Literature program, that the faculty take seriously their responsibility as stewards of the university.
"We created a culture of opposition at Rutgers, and there's been a very strong carryover and it's wonderful to see," Dowling said by phone. "There's a dynamic at work in academia where faculty members find out their universities are really pro football or basketball franchises in disguise, and you never hear from them. They become an invisible, defeated people."There are a number of ways in which the faculty can push back. Where the sports program is an assault on academic integrity, that's important. Making comparisons of coaching salaries with faculty salaries, less so.
The Rutgers faculty has refused to let its leaders throw Rice to the angry masses and then hide out until football season starts. "To me and others," Dowling said, "the cover-up matters. This is a minor league version of Penn State."
"These salaries just look out of sync when it comes to the educational mission of our colleges and universities," says Anne D. Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. "Trustees and presidents have to ask themselves what justifies these obscenely rising salaries in a time of limited resources."It is in the nature of positional arms races that extremely productive resources, whether they are Ohio class submarines or Schembechler class coaches, command premia. Perhaps the faculty might spare some of their outrage for the failure of their university to make efforts to attract and retain academic stars, including but not limited to higher salaries and summer cottages.
John Thelin, professor of educational policy studies at Kentucky, says by e-mail that he sees "little indication of complaint" among his peers on campus. "UK faculty tend, I think, to understand the priorities of the university and are silent and perhaps accepting of the practices."At a minimum, the next star researcher Kentucky or Louisville seek to hire ought to ask for paddock passes at Churchill Downs. It might be the case that differences in risks go a long way toward making sense of the difference between salaries for successful coaches and salaries for competent tenured professors. The failure of the most ambitious or the most successful researchers to ask for better pay and benefits packets, though, reduces the payments to all faculty. Those dumb coaches get incentives, why not the faculty?
Spending at the top appears to spur schools with lesser resources to spend more, too. NCAA tournament-caliber schools outside the elite conferences are increasing their men's basketball head coaches' pay and potential bonuses at a greater rate than those in elite conferences, according to an article published last month in the online Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics. The authors used documents obtained from USA TODAY Sports and found average total pay for coaches in the tournament from the six power conferences was up 20% from 2009-10 to 2011-12 — and up nearly 44% for schools from other conferences.It's called arbitrage. In college sports, a successful coach can work up from high school to an assistantship, to a head coaching appointment at a mid-major, and ultimately to a power conference. The academic pecking order is for the most part too rigid to permit such a career ladder.
It's useful to understand the incentives, rather than to engage in polemics.