Really, college athletics is about education (not)

Raymond Chen

Okay, somebody handed me a NCAA Men’s Basketball Bracket to fill out. I don’t know squat about college sports, so I decided that I would fill in the bracket based on the following simple principle: The school whose President (or Chancellor) has served longer will win the match-up. (Not counting the first-round games of the top five seeds in each bracket, just to avoid some wild upsets.) At least I thought that was simple. Filling out the bracket given this rule turns out to be rather difficult, because I have yet to find a web site that has links to all the schools represented in this year’s tournament. (I guess college athletics isn’t about the academics, because if it were, then certainly people would be falling over themselves to extol the fantastic educational opportunities at the schools represented.) And it’s not exactly easy to figure out the school’s web site from the bracket sheet. There is for example a team labelled simply “Texas”. Do I want “The University of Texas at Austin”? Do I want “The University of Texas at Dallas”? Do I want “The University of Texas at Arlington”? “Texas State University”? “Texas College”? I’m guessing it’s the University of Texas at Austin, though I might be wrong. And then there’s another box labelled “California”. Which of the many California schools is that supposed to be? I don’t even know what question to enter into a search engine to find out. (Turns out it’s the University of California at Berkeley.) Even after I hunt around to figure out which of the dozen universities named “Texas” I think I really want, I then have to find out who their President is and when they assumed office. Finding the President’s page (or Chancellor’s page) sometimes takes work, and even if you find it, it’s sometimes wrong. For example, the first thing that I noticed on the page for Syracuse University’s Chancellor Nancy Cantor is that it says “Learn about Chancellor-Elect Nancy Cantor”. (If you don’t see that phrase on the page, turn on your screen reader or disable images, or just hover over the “Inside the Chancellor’s Site” link.) “Well, great,” I thought. “She’s Chancellor-Elect, but who’s the current chancellor?” Turns out that Nancy Cantor is the current chancellor. She was inaugurated two years ago. The “Chancellor-Elect” text is badly out of date. Even when I can find the site of the university’s President/Chancellor it’s sometimes quite a bit of work to find out when they took office. For example, go back to Nancy Cantor’s page and try to figure out when she was inaugurated. You have to click on “Soul of Syracuse”, then go to the News page, then scroll down to the article titled, “Amid grand community celebration, conversation and art, SU inaugurates Cantor as 11th Chancellor and President”, click through to the article and read the dateline. November 5, 2004. That was a lot of work for a tiny bit of information that you think would be easily accessible on a biography page. Good luck finding the home page of the president of Utah State University; and if you manage to find the date at which he became president, then I tip my hat to you, because as far as I can tell they don’t list that information on their web site.

(By the way, according to my highly scientific method, the final game between Villanova and George Washington University will be extremely close, with GWU eking out a victory by just two months, August 1, 1988 to October 5, 1988.)


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