An article posted today to the Chronicle of Higher Education reports on financial misdoings at Kansas State. Evidently a VP there, Robert Krause, got involved in moving money around in creative ways within different departments he was in charge of. Not surprising, the athletics department was a large part of the problems. Is it my personal bias showing here, or is it not almost always the athletics folks doing the hanky-panky or playing fast-and-loose with the rules?
However, in this case it was not only the athletics department, but several others with whom Mr. Krause had dealings. The article concludes with a lovely quote from one of Mr. Krause’s colleagues, who evidently said something along the lines of:
(I)n a small town like Manhattan, Kan., it’s nearly impossible to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest because the people with the money to invest often also happen to be the ones with enough knowledge to serve on a governing board. “You can’t avoid conflicts in these kinds of situations, you can only manage them.”
Really? That’s the explanation? We live in a small town with only a handful of capable people, and they just happen also the be the wealthy ones, so, we’re stuck with at least the appearance of impropriety just to get capable people to help us run things? Not to mention the fact that it seems pretty fairly well clear that the facts in this case go a wee bit beyond the mere appearance of conflicts of interest, right smack dab into actual, honest-to-goodness, improper acts. I don’t get it. Am I misunderstanding what this fellow is trying to say?
And, back to athletics. Is it as simple as, where there is money, there is wrong-doing? You don’t often hear about rogue French lit professors luring hot young French stars into the department with promises of free brie. Of course, I can’t imagine thousands of people paying to come and see a play-off that pits French majors against Spanish majors, either. Or whatever the equivalent to a big ol’American football game would be.
Please, enlighten me. What is it about sports that prompts us (as a country) to give so much money towards seeing other people play them? Why do we give so much assistance to college athletes, helping them get in where maybe they shouldn’t, helping them stay in, and, of course, all the money and other perks? Is it that college sports are one of the last male bastions on campus, one of the last places where men, largely, rule the roost? Or do I have an over-inflated sense of what college athletes really get out of a university?