On Sunday, LSU revealed the end of a yearlong renovation project at the football operations building – a $28 million project that saw a complete overhaul of the locker room, training facilities, and even a nutrition center.
To be fair, the nutrition center is for all athletes – or so the release claims.
At any rate, the finalization and reveal of the project has separated some folks on two very specific sides of the spectrum – they think it’s awesome, or they question the necessity of the overall project while speculating how that money could have gone to better use.
There are some people who just don’t care, so let’s not forget about them.
It’s a difficult fence upon which to sit for some, because both sides share arguments that have some merit – although the side that thinks it’s amazing and continues to have fun sharing pictures and photos on social media has the more practical side of the argument at this time.
Why? Two things – first, there’s an arms race in college football.
Talent is plentiful now as high school coaches and camps improve their offerings year-in and year-out, so the best way for programs to distinguish themselves is facilities.
Alabama and Clemson have some of the best facilities in the country, which promote team bonding and time spent together outside of school and practice.
So, LSU followed suit. This piece of the argument is likely inconsequential to those who believe athletics should not take precedent over academics.
For the long term that is true, however, there’s an issue with the money collections that benefits the athletic department over academics.
Second (and likely most important), the renovations and the donations taken by the Tiger Athletic Foundation (TAF) to make the dream a reality were attained before the most recent tax-law changes.
What that means is that the $28 million collected for the expansion was tax-deductible and, frankly, the choice of the individual as to where he or she wanted the money to go. The best bet at LSU right now is athletics, which shows the epic question mark at the leadership position.
Oh yes, if you want someone to blame for $28 million finding its way into TAF to help with renovations in the “cold war” of college football – look no further than the head honcho himself, F. King Alexander.
During King’s tenure as president of LSU tuition has nearly tripled and sits at almost $12,000 a year for in-state students.
Double that if you want room, board, and food. For a full-bore student, that’s $100,000 for a four-year undergraduate degree. Not to mention that for five years the academic arm of LSU received a $30 million payment, per year, from the athletics department as part of a “cooperative endeavor.”
What’s come of it?
A new library that’s still in the contemplative stages. Meanwhile, some pieces of the campus still flood because the buildings have basements … which is illegal in Louisiana now.
It’s also tons of fun to walk across campus and see window units cooling off classrooms in one of the hottest states of the union.
There’s nothing wrong with the academic serving at LSU – plenty of graduates finish in four years and go on to serve as productive members of society.
It’s the look of the campus versus the athletics – and the administration wants to claim to “keep the feel” of LSU?
Sure, that’s why a group of athletes jumped for joy when they saw sleeping pods and iPads at their locker.
LSU’s tuition cost is 14 percent more than other state flagship universities.
At $100,000 a head for those who just go for four years and come from in-state – and many don’t meet either of that criteria, so just keep adding it on – there’s no reason for students at LSU to be utilizing substandard buildings at any level.
It starts with F. King Alexander and the leadership of the university. Recently announced cuts only place a further pall on the university – one which, when considering the financials, has no reason to exist.
J. McHugh David is editor and publisher of the Livingston Parish News.