I think this whole issue really brings to light the actual point of college athletics and how UNM should address that concept going forward. In my eyes, there are a couple of ways to look at college sports and what the actual “point” of them is. They are incredibly helpful in allowing students of color to come to a university and get some sort of college education that might not have otherwise been afforded to them. Another positive aspect of college athletics is that sports help build well-rounded individuals, and the time management and dedication it takes to play a Division 1 sport, as well as going to school, is quite substantial.
What I think ends up happening, though, is that both of these aspects are forgotten in the name of attempting to make money off of students. We would not be in ANY sort of debt if the whole national spectrum of college athletics hadn’t moved toward a money-making model that honestly only works for a handful of schools that have incredibly rich football programs. UNM is not one of those schools, yet has been trying to act as if it is for some time. We do not need to be paying a football coach close to a million dollars, and my case in point example is NMSU, who just won a bowl game with a coach making (less than) half of what Davie makes.
Yes, the way things work now, if our football team and basketball team are not supported, the wealth-sharing model of college athletics crumbles and the rest of our sports suffer. That really doesn’t seem too fair, so just eliminating those sports that depend on football and basketball seems like the most drastic way to show that unfairness. On that same note, though, I do not think the football team should be cut, simply because most of the students on the football team are young black students who arguably would have had a harder time coming to a D1 school if not for their sport. To eliminate football would hurt one of the two points of college athletics in that they allow students of color to come to a university.
Something must be done, though, and I think it revolves around UNM’s refusal to accept that we will never, ever compete with big-time D1 schools. Wisconsin will always demolish us, Oregon will always out-recruit us and Alabama will always make more money. Rather than chasing those schools and trying to do things like them, just without the resources, we should start making efforts to make the most out of the talent and resources we do have. We can’t pay our coaches like they do; we can’t pay our administrators like they do. Just because the market allows for higher ups to make exorbitant amounts of money doesn’t mean UNM has to do that. If we got back to the basics of college athletics and focused on two things: helping students of color come to college and promoting the well-rounded skill set that can come out of competing at a collegiate level, then maybe we wouldn’t be in this position at all.
Now, hundreds of students are going to lose an opportunity to compete because of mismanagement, and instead of watching the people responsible for this get punished, the students do. Again.