For all the potential laughs that are there in this peculiar and outrageous tale of bad judgment in Chapel Hill, there’s very little that’s really funny about it. UNC-Chapel Hill presumably wants to be taken seriously, by its peers and its constituents. Contrary to what even some trustees are arguing, building a behemoth of an athletics program has very little to do with the standing of an academic institution in the places where standing counts.Quick: Anybody know how Harvard did in football this year? Yale? Princeton? Are their trustees spending tens of millions of dollars on football facilities? Paying coaches in seven figures? Panicked that if they don’t start winning big they won’t get a bowl game and TV revenue?
Highly doubtful. And, yes, it’s true that some top academic private and public institutions such as Stanford and Michigan and Notre Dame also have high-flying football programs. But there tends to be ebb and flow even then, and such cases are few and far between.