Science and Religion expert Michael Ruse is one of our favorite Cambridge authors. He’s nuanced, compelling, and unwilling to settle for simple, doctrinal arguments on either side of the creationism debate. The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Brainstorm blog recently added him as a writer, where “[y]ou might see him writing about science and religion (especially creationism and evolution), college football, film, and other similarly uncontroversial matters.”
Ruse’s latest post “Why I am Weeping for Florida State University” ties in neatly to Weisbrod and Asch’s piece on college football coach bonuses.
As we start the New Year, Florida State University is in the headlines for two reasons. The first is that on New Year’s Day, in the Gator Bowl, FSU beat West Virginia. It was the final game of our coach, Bobby Bowden. The lead headline in the New York Times Sports Section is “Bowden Goes Out on Top of Shoulders.” The magazine Science also has news about FSU. “Recession Hits Some Sciences Hard at Florida State University.” We have just fired 20 tenured faculty and another 15 tenure-track faculty. And don’t think that these were just second-raters or indeed presume that any of them were. Included wasDean Falk, one of today’s leading paleoanthropologists and, among other things, the expert on the brain of Homo floresiensis (the hobbit). She got a pink slip on her 65th birthday. (Disclosure: Dean is a good friend. In this post I am absolutely not making a judgment about whether, given the firings, she was legitimately included or not. If you read the Science article, you will see that decisions were made on the judged vulnerability of departments, and she is a member of one such department, anthropology.)
I don’t know which item of news depresses me the more.
Pity the college football coach. With all those talented student-athletes, how much energy and time should he spend on the student versus the athlete?
For any coach at the 120 universities playing big-time football, the choice is easy if he does what the school’s contract rewards.Contracts specify “performance-based” bonuses, and so we examined coaches’ contracts to answer the question: How do football coaches’ rewards for winning games, attending to the athlete, compare with their rewards for advancing the student toward graduation? There’s no contest.
No one is surprised when a corporation talks about its devotion to the social good but then pays its CEO bonuses for raising profits. Likewise, it should be no surprise that despite talk about education, coaches are paid to win games. But it may be surprising how clear the contracts are in specifying what it takes for a coach to get bonuses.