You don't punch a gift horse in the mouth
September 15, 2016 8:00 AM   Subscribe

The University of New Hampshire has sparked criticism with the announcement of plans to spend $1 million from a $4 million bequest from an alumnus and long-time library employee on a scoreboard for the new football stadium that the school has already spent $25 million to construct..

Robert Morin, who worked for nearly 50 years as a cataloguer in the university’s Dimond Library, built up the estate by living frugally and investing much of his modest salary. (When his television broke in 1997, instead of replacing it, Morin “launched another epic project, setting out to read, in chronological order, every book published in the U.S. from 1930 to 1940, excluding children’s books, textbooks and books about cooking and technology.”)

UNH graduate Claire Cortese went online to question whether the spending on the scoreboard, compared to just $100,000 UNH earmarked for the library where Morin had worked for half a century, really reflected what an administrator described as the school’s “highest priorities and emerging opportunities.”
posted by layceepee (72 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
really reflected what an administrator described as the school’s “highest priorities and emerging opportunities.”

I'd say it obviously does.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:03 AM on September 15, 2016 [38 favorites]


I mean, basically all universities do stuff like this, but most of them at least try to do some clever budgeting to hide the fact. This is pretty embarrassing.
posted by Think_Long at 8:06 AM on September 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


(The "sparked criticism" link is blank)
posted by cardboard at 8:07 AM on September 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Why they announced "the one million for the scoreboard is coming from our beloved librarian" and not page 1: librarian gives $4 million, page 12: we got a new scoreboard, totally nothing to do with the article on page 1, is beyond me.

Although, in this dark timeline, I guess I should be grateful they're not using the donation as evidence that librarians are overpaid.
posted by zippy at 8:07 AM on September 15, 2016 [37 favorites]


Jesus wept.
posted by acb at 8:11 AM on September 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


Money is fungible, so in a way this is more honest than shifting funds from the science labs to the scoreboard and then putting the bequest towards the labs. But being honest about being awful doesn't make your actions not awful.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:15 AM on September 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


But wait a minute:
The majority of his estate, $2.5 million, will help to launch an expanded and centrally located career center for our students and alumni...

Another $1 million will support a video scoreboard for the new football stadium. In the last 15 months of his life Morin lived in an assisted living center where he started watching football games on television, mastering the rules and names of the players and teams...

The only dedicated gift in Morin’s bequest was $100,000 to Dimond Library. It will provide scholarships for work-study students, support staff members who continue their studies in library science, and renovate and upgrade one of the library’s multimedia rooms.


So, Mr. Morin himself set some of the priorities, liked football and most of the gift goes to a career center.

Ms. Cortese makes a good case about the focus of university spending, but I don't think you can make a case that Mr. Morin would not have approved of what was done with his funds without more evidence.
posted by emjaybee at 8:17 AM on September 15, 2016 [19 favorites]


The school also just recently spent almost $2 million on a new student athlete center, and $4.5 million to build a new outdoor pool.
An outdoor pool. In Durham, New Hampshire, where the average high temperature rises above 70 degrees just six months out of the year and the average low never hits 60.
posted by Etrigan at 8:18 AM on September 15, 2016 [13 favorites]


“Bob was adamant that he did not want to designate where the money would be spent,”

It sounds to me like he knew what he wanted. His legacy is fortunate to have donated to a university that used the majority of the money on services that benefit students. And as noted in the UNH article, football was one of his projects. I doubt he'd be at all unhappy with the university's decisions. The bottom line is that working at a university that long will impart an understanding what's going to happen to money donated to the general fund.

I'm happy to be a UNH graduate.
posted by phlyingpenguin at 8:19 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Morin trusted UNH to spend the money wisely for students.

LOL.
posted by splitpeasoup at 8:20 AM on September 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


An outdoor pool. In Durham, New Hampshire, where the average high temperature rises above 70 degrees just six months out of the year and the average low never hits 60.

Presumably it cost $4.5 million because of the expense of piping in water from Conundrum Hot Springs in Colorado.
posted by beerperson at 8:22 AM on September 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


The outdoor pool will create a micro-climate in teh NE; thusly encouraging biodiversity. Key attraction: Late winter fern garden, with a moss lined reflection path.
posted by buzzman at 8:22 AM on September 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


An outdoor pool. In Durham, New Hampshire, where the average high temperature rises above 70 degrees just six months out of the year

And for much of which (i.e. the summer) the majority of students won't even be on campus. But it will look really good in brochures and on the website!

All non-academic capital expenditures should be expressed in four year full tuition scholarship equivalents. "The school also just recently spent almost $2 million on a new student athlete center (instead of 30 full tuition scholarships), and $4.5 million to build a new outdoor pool (instead of 66 full tuition scholarships)."
posted by jedicus at 8:24 AM on September 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


We are constantly told that university football programs fund themselves (and then some). If that is true, why did the scoreboard need to be paid for this way?
posted by splitpeasoup at 8:24 AM on September 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


We are constantly told that university football programs fund themselves (and then some). If that is true, why did the scoreboard need to be paid for this way?

This is only true for about 24 schools in the entire country. UNH is not one of them. In 2009, the football program generated only about $1 million in revenue.
posted by jedicus at 8:32 AM on September 15, 2016 [21 favorites]


UNH is a pretty chilly campus set in some wooded hills. Both pretty and chilly, in fact. The utility of an outdoor pool makes no sense to me there.
posted by bonehead at 8:34 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


And the fact that UNH's program does not pay for itself shows in their stadiums. UNH does not have the kind of stadium that football crazy areas have. If they did, it would be a problem.

For example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Stadium_(Lincoln) (disclaimer: I have no idea if such a claim is made for this school.)
posted by phlyingpenguin at 8:35 AM on September 15, 2016


This is only true for about 24 schools in the entire country. UNH is not one of them. In 2009, the football program generated only about $1 million in revenue.

I'm pleasantly surprised to see that info on an NCAA page. I generally assume spend most of their time laughing maniacally while rolling around in piles of money.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:40 AM on September 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Mod note: Got that first link fixed up.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:42 AM on September 15, 2016


I'm not saying he was suffering from end-of-life dementia, and I'm not saying there's a correlation between dementia and being a football fan, but let's look at the facts...
posted by straw at 11:22 AM on September 15 [2 favorites +]


I'm not saying this is an idiotic comment, or that straw is a Donald Trump sockpuppet account, but let's look at the facts...
posted by rocket88 at 8:43 AM on September 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


For example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Stadium_(Lincoln) (disclaimer: I have no idea if such a claim is made for this school.)

The new Wildcats Stadium will seat the entire population of Berlin. That's Berlin, the only city in Coos County.
posted by Etrigan at 8:45 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


This reminds me so much of that Daria episode where Principal Li spends all of the school's budget on a top of the line lie detector machine while ignoring the crumbling infrastructure of the school, the roof of the library caves in due to poor budgeting and corruption.
"When corporate executives at the University of New Hampshire saw an opportunity to spend money wastefully on something they didn't need to, they dove in head first, next on Sick, Sad World."
posted by Fizz at 8:51 AM on September 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


So, Mr. Morin himself set some of the priorities, liked football and most of the gift goes to a career center. -- emjaybee

Nobody has said that he wanted $1 million to go to a scoreboard. The only money he assigned was $100,000 for library study scholarships. The rest of the money was for funding scholarships and renovations.

I doubt that he wanted it to go to a scoreboard, even if he did start watching a few football games in his waning days. But really, who knows. The university was given the money and they can do whatever they want with it.

As mentioned, it is really just a bad public relations move on their part.
posted by eye of newt at 8:59 AM on September 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


My alma mater recently built (and maybe expanded?) a new football stadium. I made a contribution to the cause in the form of an inscribed brick. My brick has a short, bitter message on it about how the university shuttered my college and stole its endowment. They kept saying that inscriptions were subject to approval and I kept expecting a rejection notice for my brick, but just the other day I got an email saying that my brick has now been installed and I should come out to find it and take a picture and share it on social media. I still figure they've probably installed it under a toilet or next to a fire hydrant or some similar degraded location. It'll be a while before I can get back there and find out.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 9:02 AM on September 15, 2016 [21 favorites]


I'd also like to point out that the $1 million didn't go towards equipment, or anything else actually necessary for a football team. It went towards a scoreboard. Why does this need to cost a million dollars?
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:04 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


The librarian laughs from beyond the grave as the scoreboard only posts the score in MARC 21 format.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:08 AM on September 15, 2016 [24 favorites]


An outdoor pool. In Durham, New Hampshire, where the average high temperature rises above 70 degrees just six months out of the year and the average low never hits 60.

You could say very similar things about the climate in London, yet London Fields Lido has been extremely popular for years (so much so that I hardly ever go these days as it's just too busy to get a decent swim in unless you time it carefully) and even our unheated lidos get year round use.
posted by *becca* at 9:11 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


All non-academic capital expenditures should be expressed in four year full tuition scholarship equivalents. "The school also just recently spent almost $2 million on a new student athlete center (instead of 30 full tuition scholarships), and $4.5 million to build a new outdoor pool (instead of 66 full tuition scholarships)."

Just leave out the dollar amounts. "The school also just recently spent 29.8 full tuition scholarships on a new student athlete center, and 66.0 full tuition scholarships to build a new outdoor pool. The mandatory Student Athletics Fee has increased to 0.04 full tuition scholarships per year."

As has been said above, as a 50 year employee, I think we can assume that Mr. Morin knew full well what a general fund donation meant. If he wanted to, he could have specified where every dollar of the gift went, but he didn't. Now, if you want to criticise this as an example of the horrible priorities of institutions of higher education and a general misuse of the general fund, I'm not going to argue with you on that, but I don't think it was a betrayal of the donor.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:14 AM on September 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


UNH is a pretty chilly campus set in some wooded hills. Both pretty and chilly, in fact. The utility of an outdoor pool makes no sense to me there.

UNH grad here, and I still live in the area. Seacoast New Hampshire isn't darkest northern Canada. It gets plenty hot from June through September (85 yesterday). And the pool is (a) heated and (b) open to Durham residents, not just students. It's a worthy addition/improvement to the campus (which is indeed very pretty).
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:16 AM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I am regularly grateful that the athletic field (it's not even a stadium) at the school where I work is an historic site and thus mostly immune to this kind of stupidity.

That is tempered by the fact that my undergraduate alma mater, which hadn't had a football team since 1967, started a program a few years ago. They are, as expected, laughably bad.

Fundamentally, though, given that football causes brain injuries, running a football program is antithetical to the mission of an educational institution.

You could say very similar things about the climate in London

London has a population of 8.6 million. Durham, NH has a population of 14,638. UNH has an enrollment of ~15k. No surprise that with a population 277 times as large that London manages to find enough people to fill a (heated!) outdoor pool year round.
posted by jedicus at 9:16 AM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


More about the pool, which I realize isn't the focus of this post.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:17 AM on September 15, 2016


$1 million for a scoreboard?? Have the guy go up and put the new number on the hook. Maybe the numbers are made of thousands of epipens that glow in different colors ?
posted by freecellwizard at 9:20 AM on September 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Fundamentally, though, given that football causes brain injuries, running a football program is antithetical to the mission of an educational institution.

While I can't entirely disagree, you might be interested to know that a UNH professor has pioneered a program designed to teach football players how to avoid head injuries.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:21 AM on September 15, 2016


The librarian laughs from beyond the grave as the scoreboard only posts the score in MARC 21 format.

The UNH QL737 .C23s defeated the UMass E255 .G35s today...
posted by Rock Steady at 9:24 AM on September 15, 2016 [19 favorites]


The librarian laughs from beyond the grave as the scoreboard only posts the score in MARC 21 format.

The display shows several hundred elements of data, most of which are blank as they were selected by a consortium of angry cats. 90% of the teams use only 20 of the possibilities, but never the same 20. and only five of the possibilities are used consistently. A team on the field is shown thusly

........ UNH .. 11 volumes ... 2500 lbs .... 27.5' wide ....... white and blue ...
posted by zippy at 9:38 AM on September 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


So, Mr. Morin himself set some of the priorities, liked football and most of the gift goes to a career center.

emjaybee's comment makes it pretty clear that, to the extent that this is A Big Deal because money from a librarian is being used for sportsball, this is a non-story. The donor had a method to direct the donation specifically to the library or other academic ventures (we know this because he did), but chose not to for the vast majority of the funds.

As much as I think that universities should focus more on education and research and less on playing games (to the extent that the game playing is not part of the education and research), I think it's wrong to try to gin up anger over this because of where the money originally came from.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:44 AM on September 15, 2016 [2 favorites]



We are constantly told that university football programs fund themselves (and then some). If that is true, why did the scoreboard need to be paid for this way?

This is only true for about 24 schools in the entire country. UNH is not one of them


And thank God for that. Football programs that fund themselves are in universities that compromise themselves in every way to cultivate sentimentality among the students and alumni, in order to get the students to spend their money on football tickets and fanboy shit, and then to donate, donate, donate and buy tickets as alumni.

And in one case the compromise went so far as to look the other way while children got anally raped.

The profitable football programs should be the first to be shut down.

(And the sentimentality thing is giving me an ulcer. MIT is still trying to socially-engineer me into that sort of thing, 10 years after I got my degrees. At least the football program is clean though.)
posted by ocschwar at 9:45 AM on September 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


At least he enjoyed football, though he apparently found that interest late in his life:
Another $1 million will support a video scoreboard for the new football stadium. In the last 15 months of his life Morin lived in an assisted living center where he started watching football games on television, mastering the rules and names of the players and teams.
mccarty.tim: Money is fungible, so in a way this is more honest than shifting funds from the science labs to the scoreboard and then putting the bequest towards the labs.

Money is only fungible only to the point that it's all kept in one pot. Decreasing funds for science labs could mean adjusting the facilities or science program's budget, just as increasing the sports complex budget means those funds are then allocated for that specific project, so they wouldn't suddenly get spent on a big fundraising campaign to court alumni and businesses, as a random example.

I have two questions, which weren't answered by the linked articles: 1) was the scoreboard going to cost $1 million before, and if so 2) how was the scoreboard going to be funded previously? Did the $1 million equal 1/10th of the the objective to raise $10 million in individual/corporate support with the hope of leveraging additional funding in order to reach $25 million in total funding for the west side of the stadium? Or are they trying to reduce the hit to university savings, of which $20 million was going to go to the stadium, with only $5 million coming from contributions? That was back in 2014, so the university's savings could have been reduced since then, or their rate of receiving contributions may have increased.

The new stadium has been a tough sell for some New Hampshireites for a while, and football isn't even UNH's biggest sport, but "students are really starting to buy into it, and hopefully that will keep going" (according to a member of the 'Cat Pack student cheering section). Hockey is the school's biggest sport.

Let me bring you back to our motto “Science, arts, industry”. Please let me know where million dollar scoreboards come into this.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:45 AM on September 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Deborah Dutton, vice president for advancement and president of the UNH Foundation, noted that Morin’s gift is especially powerful and tremendously helpful. “Unrestricted gifts give the university the ability to use the funds for our highest priorities and emerging opportunities. This is an extraordinary gift that comes at a critical time for launching a number of initiatives that are only able to move forward because of his generosity.”
Emphasis mine.

There you go. Their "highest priority", per the president of the UNH Foundation, is encouraging brain injury among a tiny number of students. Why that, and not you know education, should be the highest priority at a university I have no idea, but the "university" in question has explicitly stated that their highest priority is sportsball and academics can suck it.

At least they're honest I suppose. But yeesh.
posted by sotonohito at 10:19 AM on September 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


I wonder by what factor his gift exceeds the compensation that was paid to him over the years? Giving money to one's employer has always seemed weird to me, but I have seen other long term university employees do this, too.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:19 AM on September 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think we really, seriously, no fooling, need to consider a law banning any school, from pre-school through university, from having sports teams. PE is fine, but you can't have a school team for any sport and you can't compete with other schools in any sport.

We've tried having school teams, clearly America isn't mature enough to have it without turning it into some sick cult that steals money from real educational needs, so it's time to take the toys away.

And I think a law prohibiting anyone under the age of 18 or so from playing football wouldn't go amiss either. Brain injury is serious shit, and a lot more important than 'school pride' or whatever.
posted by sotonohito at 10:23 AM on September 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


I wonder by what factor his gift exceeds the compensation that was paid to him over the years? Giving money to one's employer has always seemed weird to me, but I have seen other long term university employees do this, too.

I think it makes more sense the smaller/poorer the institution, although I grant that it's still pretty weird. There is, frankly, no reason for anyone to give money to schools that have billion-dollar endowments, but my mom teaches at a tiny, struggling college in rural Ohio where a donation the size of Morin's could mean keeping the lights on for another couple years. If you believe in the mission, giving to a school that could really use it isn't the worst use of your money.
posted by Copronymus at 10:38 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


no matter how what the boss does is cartoonishly evil, there's always a cadre ready to declare: "well, they are the boss, it's their prerogative." it's what makes this society function.

But then all the public universities in New England have been converted into state subsided "ski schools" with high tuition, chasing wealthy out of state students.

someone should funnel a bucket of saltwater into that scoreboard...
posted by ennui.bz at 10:38 AM on September 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think we really, seriously, no fooling, need to consider a law banning any school, from pre-school through university, from having sports teams. PE is fine, but you can't have a school team for any sport and you can't compete with other schools in any sport.

Almost all college sports are fine. When did you last hear about a division 3 rugby scandal? Or Ultimate Frisbee? Or, hell, competitive ballroom dance (which might as well be a sport)?
posted by BungaDunga at 11:49 AM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


But then all the public universities in New England have been converted into state subsided "ski schools" with high tuition, chasing wealthy out of state students.

About that "state subsidized" thing-- UNH is dead last in per capita amount of state funding. State funding makes up less than 10% of the university budget.

The whole "no income tax or sales tax" makes it hard to fund anything, period, at the state level.
posted by damayanti at 11:50 AM on September 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


In Durham, New Hampshire, where the average high temperature rises above 70 degrees just six months out of the year and the average low never hits 60.

Meh, it will be a heck of a lot warmer than the ocean anyway. Also, that sentence makes 0 sense to me. It was ridiculously hot for much of this summer but when the hell has it gotten above 70 for half the year? And as for "average low never hits 60", well I am one town away from Durham so I can't say for sure what goes on there, but you are welcome to stop by in February for a picnic.
posted by yerfatma at 11:51 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is a great example of why I will never, under any circumstances, send a goddamn dime to my football-crazed alma mater.

I actually derive perverse glee from the fact that, because I was a full-scholarship student from out of state, they've never seen a penny from me at all.
posted by uberchet at 12:08 PM on September 15, 2016


he started watching football games on television, mastering the rules and names of the players and teams

This... is rather vague. Are UNH football games televised? Is it more likely he was watching the Patriots? Does it matter which team/level of football he was watching? Isn't ice hockey still WAY more popular/competitive on campus?

There are like seven home games a season. Is this scoreboard useful for any other activity that might happen there?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 12:14 PM on September 15, 2016


This... is rather vague. Are UNH football games televised?

Apparently, yes.

"CAA Football announced Tuesday that the University of New Hampshire will have five games televised during the 2015 regular season as part of the league's television package."
posted by zippy at 12:33 PM on September 15, 2016


Giving money to one's employer has always seemed weird to me, but I have seen other long term university employees do this, too.

There are worse things to believe in than the mission of a university, especially one that you worked at for decades. Your money has to go somewhere when you die, after all.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:42 PM on September 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


College sports is at best a weird diversion from the goal of higher education, in my opinion. Why don't they have NCAA NASCAR as a farm program for pro NASCAR? Makes just as much sense.
posted by Daddy-O at 2:29 PM on September 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hell, I can at least see the educational benefit a college NASCAR team might provide to a school's mechanical engineering department.
posted by tobascodagama at 3:20 PM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


As a professional fundraiser, arguments over donor intent when the bequest is impossibly vague already make my eyes twitch but when the bequest is literally unrestricted it's just ridiculous.

This is certainly a PR fumble by the university, though, and arguments about prioritization of resources are definitely appropriate. But it doesn't matter whether said resources came from this bequest, other unrestricted accounts, or the athletic department's operating budget.
posted by AndrewInDC at 3:46 PM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


. I think we really, seriously, no fooling, need to consider a law banning any school, from pre-school through university, from having sports teams. PE is fine, but you can't have a school team for any sport and you can't compete with other schools in any sport

I wonder how much that would reduce low income and minority participation in sports.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 4:13 PM on September 15, 2016


" My brick has a short, bitter message on it about how the university shuttered my college and stole its endowment. They kept saying that inscriptions were subject to approval and I kept expecting a rejection notice for my brick, but just the other day I got an email saying that my brick has now been installed and I should come out to find it and take a picture and share it on social media. "

I would bet that your brick just has your name on it and that's it, because at what point, what are you gonna be able to do about it? Thanks for your money!

"Their "highest priority", per the president of the UNH Foundation, is encouraging brain injury among a tiny number of students. "

No, their highest priority is making football a moneymaker (though don't ask me how a giant billboard does this), which means that football money should magically filter down to the students' education! Or something!

"There are worse things to believe in than the mission of a university, especially one that you worked at for decades. Your money has to go somewhere when you die, after all."

Plus you can get your name on a bench!
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:54 PM on September 15, 2016


agents of KAOS I wonder how much that would reduce low income and minority participation in sports.

Considering my proposal would eradicate school sports as they currently exist I'd say 100%. I fail to see a problem with that.
posted by sotonohito at 7:25 PM on September 15, 2016


Yeah, involvement in sports is not something I would recognise as good in itself?

If the idea is that sports are the only way minority students can get scholarships... there would be a fuck of a lot more scholarships to go around if colleges didn't blow millions on sports.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:10 PM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I hate this crap with a passion. Not all schools do this--there are plenty of great schools that don't have football teams and/or aren't division I. If you donate to your school and they start wasting money on crap like this you can always donate to one of those other schools, and let your alma mater know why you think a school you didn't even attend is more worthy.

But it doesn't matter whether said resources came from this bequest, other unrestricted accounts, or the athletic department's operating budget.

Practically it matters quite a bit. Anyone who does budgeting will tell you that. Getting someone else from within the organization to cover your projects, while you maintain control of the projects, is a key step for the budding bureaucrat.

If it came from the athletic department's operating budget, then it's almost unavoidable that some significant chunk of prioritization is within the athletic department, which makes future spending on this sort of thing less likely--since the advocates for this had to pay a penalty. But coming from an unrestricted funds outside the existing budget doesn't just mean you can't use it for other things, it's an excellent way to encourage a department to ask for lots of stuff, or over commit in the expectation they'll be bailed out.

So IMO not caring where the money came from is necessarily saying the prioritization doesn't matter, which is in fact (as you say) not true. And apologies in advance if you ever do fundraising for my uni in a situation like this, but I'd give you an earful if you were trying to spin it any other way while you managed my "relationship."

And thank God for that. Football programs that fund themselves are in universities that compromise themselves in every way

Sadly, this does not mean that football programs that lose money are at schools that have maintained integrity in their academic vs. athletics priorities.
posted by mark k at 8:18 PM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, involvement in sports is not something I would recognise as good in itself?

huh, well I disagree. Plenty of benefits even once you ignore the obvious of healthy activity, and even if you don't want to admit that it's good in itself, it's impossible to pretend that people don't want to do it. Do you want to be the one to announce that all future US Olympic athletes will come from rich white families?


Considering my proposal would eradicate school sports as they currently exist I'd say 100%.


I'd have to say that if you actually didn't know that sports exist outside schools, then you might be a little under informed.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 9:58 PM on September 15, 2016


You guys all understand that he could have restricted the gift before his death to the library if he wanted to, right? The gift was unrestricted on purpose, so that the university would be able to use it on whatever they wanted. As a person who works in fundraising at a college and who draws up gift agreements all the time, I don't understand the collective outrage here.
posted by all about eevee at 10:14 PM on September 15, 2016


As a person who works in fundraising at a college and who draws up gift agreements all the time, I don't understand the collective outrage here.

The two people I knew personally who worked at colleges all their lives and then made large bequests were both college sports boosters; it's not at all incompatible with working in a library or other academic setting. I think people are seeing a dissonance or incongruity here that in practice does not exist.

But people are also (correctly) seeing this as an example of schools having weird prioritizations, where somehow a million dollars for a football scoreboard is chosen over scholarships for student athletes, faculty and staff hires in the athletics department, or more urgent facilities upgrades.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:35 AM on September 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


As a person who works in fundraising at a college and who draws up gift agreements all the time, I don't understand the collective outrage here.

Um, because it's a super shitty way to spend the money bequeathed to the university.
posted by shoesietart at 4:56 AM on September 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'd have to say that if you actually didn't know that sports exist outside schools, then you might be a little under informed.

Nobody in this thread is talking about sports that happen outside schools.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:20 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think we really, seriously, no fooling, need to consider a law banning any school, from pre-school through university, from having sports teams. PE is fine, but you can't have a school team for any sport and you can't compete with other schools in any sport

I don't get this argument. What problem are you solving for by eradicating all sports from schools? I, and most of my friends, grew up playing sports at school. There are plenty of benefits, including physical, social, intellectual, and mental. I'm sure reforms are needed in various areas (this isn't something I've studied), but I can't see advocating wholesale removal. Maybe I'm taking the statement too literally though.

That said, getting back to the main topic, it seems like a pretty poor use of the donation, even granting that the funds were unrestricted.
posted by JenMarie at 8:28 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


JenMarie No, I meant it quite literally.

Sports in and of themselves are fine. People like playing sometimes.

But having an official organized school team competing with other official organized school teams all but inevitably produces a weird sports cult that starts eating up money and resources beyond all reason. We've got school districts in Texas paying, no exaggeration, over $70 million for a massive football complex, we'v got schools all over cutting into academic programs and extracurricular programs to fund the local Alpha Sport (usually football, occasionally basketball), we've got teachers and administration letting the top players get away with bad behavior, and it's just a huge mess.

A few kids playing some volleyball or soccer or whatever is fine, I wouldn't agree that it provides any significant benefits, but it's fun and it gets them some exercise so yay.

An entire school centering around a sports team, squandering all their money on ever bigger and more expensive toys for that team, that's a problem.

I can't see a way to end the sports cult without ending official school teams competing against other official school teams. Not ending sports in school, just making it purely an internal thing with no official, permanent, organized, team. Sports as simply part of PE, not any separate entity seems like the only way to stop the problem.

I also think that banning tackle football from schools entirely would be a good idea due to CTE concerns.
posted by sotonohito at 10:50 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Two quick things:

1. I suspect Morin may have thought that by not earmarking the funds, they could use it for stuff like regular physical plant operations, faculty salaries, etc. oops, lol!

2. Raise the price of the football tickets to raise money for the goddamned fucking scoreboard if you really goddamn fucking need it.
posted by dhens at 11:30 AM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


I can't see a way to end the sports cult without ending official school teams competing against other official school teams. Not ending sports in school, just making it purely an internal thing with no official, permanent, organized, team. Sports as simply part of PE, not any separate entity seems like the only way to stop the problem.

Football (and other intercollegiate sports) weren't foisted upon students by the bureaucracy -- they grew out of students saying "Hey, I bet we're better than those fuckers over at Rutgers" and taking the train up to prove it. That sort of thing is going to happen (hell, rivalry games are often preceded by student clubs that have nothing to do with football having football games against each other), and making them official, sanctioned teams allows the schools to regulate and control them.
posted by Etrigan at 11:45 AM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


So IMO not caring where the money came from is necessarily saying the prioritization doesn't matter, which is in fact (as you say) not true.

Well, sure, and that's the argument about how the university prioritizes its resources that I said is worth having. But how Morin's gift is allocated isn't driving those budgeting decisions; it's a consequence of them.
posted by AndrewInDC at 3:39 PM on September 16, 2016


Um, because it's a super shitty way to spend the money bequeathed to the university.

I'm sorry, but no, not really, at least not according to the Board, the President, the CFO, and the person in charge of Advancement. When someone makes an unrestricted gift like Morin did, it can and will be used for anything that the school decides to use it for. Athletics is part of the university, whether or not the alumni all like sports. This should be a lesson to anyone who has the capacity and the inclination to make a large bequest to a college or university that if they or the executors of their estate care at all about how the gift is used, they should restrict the gift ahead of their death. Otherwise, it will be used for giant scoreboards if that is what the President and the CFO decide to spend it on. Large donors like Morin are asked over and over again throughout their lives by fundraisers if they want their gift to be restricted or not, and are clear with donors about what exactly an unrestricted gift means. For this to have happened, Morin would have had to explicitly state that he wanted the gift to be unrestricted.
posted by all about eevee at 10:42 PM on September 16, 2016


In other words, if Morin wanted the gift to go to scholarships, faculty/staff compensation, professional development, library improvements, or physical plant, he could and should have said so ahead of time.
posted by all about eevee at 10:48 PM on September 16, 2016


. Nobody in this thread is talking about sports that happen outside schools.

Well, I was. Perhaps some people misread my comment.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 2:03 PM on September 17, 2016


But I guess anybody who wants to discuss banning sports in schools but doesn't have a thought on sports outside schools is probably not making a serious suggestion so I was expecting too much.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 2:08 PM on September 17, 2016


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