The glamorous world of college athletics has a seedy side, and you only have to look at what happened this week at the University of Maryland to see what’s beneath the glitz.
Maryland’s football team just went 8-4, which earned the team the right to play in a bowl game, and garnered their coach, Ralph Friedgen, the ACC “Coach of the Year” award. Given all of this, you might think all would be well in the land of the Turtle, but you’d be wrong. Despite all of this success, this week the administration fired Friedgen, an alumnus by the way, because his Terrapin teams didn’t draw enough fans. In other words, the coach lost his job — not because of an NCCAA violation or because his players didn’t go to class or win games — he lost his job because he couldn’t sell enough seats.
Several years ago, the administration at Maryland decided to “overbuild” their football stadium, which required them to install a number of luxury boxes, boxes which have remained unsold. It was those empty luxury boxes, (Shouldn’t “luxury boxes” be a misnomer at a state-funded university?) which cost Friedgen his job.
As if all of this weren’t bad enough, it is believed that Maryland will soon hire Mike Leach, a wildly successful coach at Texas A and M, to replace Friedgeon. It’s worth remembering that Leach was fired in Texas last year because he was being investigated by the NCAA for charges related to his locking a player in a tool shed.
During the press conference last week, Maryland’s president referred to the “integrity” of the program. And we wonder why students are sometimes cynical?