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Sentinel takes another shot at FAU

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Sentinel takes another shot at FAU

Why would they run a story like this when we have one guy sign with an NFL team and three others getting invited to camps? Let's bury that and run some more FAU-bashing stuff.


Is football worth price?

FAU's young program is in debt, but school officials believe it boosts prestige.

By Ted Hutton
Staff Writer
April 26 2005

When Murray Sperber heard that Florida Atlantic's athletic department is more than $2 million in debt due to adding football, he said it would have made a good chapter in his latest book Beer and Circus: How Big-time College Sports Is Crippling Undergraduate Education.

"From day one it seemed FAU was chasing this vainglorious dream that football would put the school on the map," Sperber said. "From any rational standpoint, it cannot be justified. All the arguments are emotional and irrational."

But Doug Toma, author of Football U: Spectator Sport In The Life Of The American University, said it is too soon to judge whether FAU's leap into Division I-A football has been a failure.

"It may be irrational on one level," Toma said, "but it lets you be more like most esteemed institutions. The great public universities all play football."

Toma and Sperber are used to sparring over this subject. "He thinks I am an idiot, and I think he is naive," Toma said. Sperber recently retired from Indiana University, where he was a professor of English and American Studies. Toma is an associate professor at the Institute of Higher Education at Georgia.

"I just sort of shake my head in amazement that people that run these schools think this is what will put Florida Atlantic on the map," Sperber said. "I can see them building a decent team, but at such tremendous expense, it hardly seems worth it."

But Toma believes, as does FAU President Frank Brogan and a majority of the Board of Trustees, that football is an important component to the growth of the university.

"They look up the road at Tallahassee and Gainesville and down at Coral Gables and think, `We're certainly as good as those people. We may be newer, but what are we lacking?'" Toma said.

Part of the answer was football, which FAU began playing in 2001. But the revenue projections used to get approval for the program proved to be unrealistic, and FAU is expected to raise student athletic fees from $11.75 to $13.75 per credit hour to help balance the budget, which is expected to come up $1.7 million short this year, and pay off an additional $1.2 million debt from the previous two years.

Student fees will then make up 65 percent of next year's $12.2 million athletic budget, while the average for Division I-A schools is 5 percent. A full-time student at FAU will be paying $330 per year in athletic fees.

"FAU is mainly a commuter school, and it seems $330 can mean a lot to each student. You can buy a computer for $500, and imagine what $330 times the thousands of students could do for the library," Sperber said.

Instead of pumping money into athletics, Sperber wonders why FAU doesn't focus on academics.

"Increasing faculty pay would improve the quality of education, or they might start a good academic program in a certain field," he said.

Toma countered that the money spent on football might be a bargain.

"Maybe football is the cheapest thing you can do to turn yourself into a prominent university," Toma said. "It's a heck of a lot easier to put yourself on the map in athletics than building a prominent department."

Toma noted that FAU has already gained national attention due to the name recognition of coach Howard Schnellenberger and the success the team has had so quickly, going to the I-AA semifinals in 2003 and finishing 9-3 last year as the program began its move from I-AA to I-A, where it will be at the same level as FSU, Florida and Miami.

"Try to find a prominent public university that hasn't gotten into football," Toma said. "You either get in or you make a big deal about opting out. The gutsy thing to do is stay out, but it might not be the smartest."

Toma said Central Florida and South Florida both made the same decision, as did Florida International.

FAU's faculty members appear to support football.

"If our students are happy with what they are getting, then it doesn't make a lot of difference how that money is spent in a given year," said Fred Hoffman, the Board of Trustees faculty representative. "I think you can make a case that football has brought positive attention to FAU."

Ted Hutton can be reached at [email protected]

President of the No Homers Club. Keepin' it real since 2001.
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Sentinel takes another shot at FAU

At least its not Ted Huttons opinion. I like how they have the positive with the negative. I can live with those stories. And as far as acedemics are concerned the news papers dont like to report those achievements. There has been more news about our football team, both good and bad, than about the lens that one of our professors patented that is going to relace the current lens on the hubble space telescope. I have one read one artical about that in the papers.
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Sentinel takes another shot at FAU

I could see this article being printed later when nothing is happenning in football, so I agree with you canadianowl, how about focusing on the players that made to NFL camps ???

And how many times is this same story going to be printed - now he just puts a little different twist on it.

The guy must really be bored or is starting to hang out with the Twit.

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Sentinel takes another shot at FAU

Hey were'nt these guys on the Glades road and 95 exit ramp with signs "will write for food". CanadianOwl you will not read anything like the lens or other academic accomplishments from these guys due to non-sensational content. You can't get a rise out of people by writing about a lens.
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