26.11.06

NOT THE FRONT PORCH. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Michael Hunt is not taken in by talk about the primacy of a football program in a university's visibility.

Donna Shalala gets it. As chancellor at Wisconsin or now as president at Miami, she understands the tremendous ancillary value of a successful sports program at a major university.

She twisted Pat Richter's arm to come back to UW and dig what was then a backwater athletic department out of deep debt. With Richter, she hired Barry Alvarez as football coach, and he won three Rose Bowls. That's why they called her the Sporting Chancellor in Madison.

And now Shalala is taking heat in Coral Gables because a once-dominant football program began to deteriorate on her watch. That is why she fired Larry Coker, and that is why the perception exists that she will again go after Alvarez in an attempt to resurrect the Hurricanes.

He goes on to suggest that Mr Alvarez ought decline the honor.
Alvarez is almost 60, not necessarily old for a coach, but he is in a position where he doesn't have to work terribly hard for his $500,000 plus perks as athletic director and TV guy. And the pressure is so immense at Miami that Shalala got rid of a coach who won one national championship and came within an overtime of winning another.
But couldn't keep his recruits off the police blotter.

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