To the editor:
Although my comment may appear to be a defense of Lew Perkins, it is not intended as such. I wish only to comment on one of the problems identified in the Sept. 8 editorial “Perkins should have left KU much sooner.”
The editorial criticized Perkins because “Increasing numbers of faculty members and alumni became upset at the millions upon millions spent on athletics facilities when university officials were being asked to trim expenditures for academic purposes.” That was, and will continue to be, a lamentable situation, but it was not Perkins’ fault. It was, and is, the nature of the business. The athletic corporation is a nonprofit organization, so it must spend the money it gets, or it will look like a profit-making enterprise — and then might have to pay taxes. The next athletic director, and athletic directors at all other major universities, will have to do the same.
The problem is that these corporations simply get too much money. And, if anyone is to blame, it is the chancellors and presidents at all major universities who have allowed these corporations to abscond with all the revenues from TV contracts, bowl games and the NCAA basketball championship. The chancellors were apparently duped years ago by the athletic directors when these funds became available, and they continue to let these millions of dollars slip through their hands.
As should have been clear to anyone who followed the recent realignments of teams and conferences, it was all about the money. Now would be a good time for the chancellors to change the financial arrangements. All those revenues should go to the university, not the athletic corporations, and the chancellors should decide how those funds should be spent. If they thought athletics was the university’s top priority, they could give some or all the money to the athletic corporation. But they could decide that the library or faculty salaries were a higher priority. In any case, the public, the faculty and the alumni would know what the chancellors’ priorities were.