When Kansas State University coach Bill Snyder talks football, people usually listen.
The respected coach’s recent criticism of college athletics apparently had no impact on an NCAA vote giving increased autonomy to the nation’s five biggest athletic conferences, but his comments nonetheless were refreshing.
When asked about how university athletic programs have bowed to outside interests, such as lucrative TV contracts, Snyder didn’t mince words. “I think we’ve sold out,” he said. “We’re all about dollars and cents. The concept of college football no longer has any bearing on the quality of the person, the quality of students. Universities are selling themselves out.”
It’s not exactly what you expect to hear from such a successful coach, but Snyder, who rebuilt the K-State football program twice, is known for holding his players to a high standard of behavior and academic performance. And, despite the fact K-State’s football stadium bears Snyder’s name, he also seems to appreciate the proper role of sports at an academic institution.
“Our professors … I have an office I could swim in. They’re in a cubbyhole somewhere,” he said. “Yet, they go out and teach and promote education every day, and I value that.”
A day after Snyder made his comments, the NCAA board of directors voted to give the nation’s five biggest conferences — Big 12, SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC — new authority to make their own rules without input from other Division I conferences. The move is expected to further increase spending on college football.
Does the fact that the Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium recently underwent a $90 million renovation, with another $65 million in work scheduled after this season, weaken the coach’s point about spending on college athletics? Maybe so, or maybe it offers him the perfect platform to say enough is enough.
Snyder has won 178 games during 22 seasons as the K-State coach. With that kind of record, the 74-year-old Snyder’s job is secure and he can afford to say what he really thinks even if it doesn’t win him any friends. It takes some guts for any coach to say college athletics has “sold out to the cameras” and “I think we’ve lost sight of what college athletics is all about.”
Right now, it’s all about money. Congratulations to Snyder for being willing to say that.