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Morning reading: Are UW students being snubbed?

Post by Ryan Divish on Sep. 30, 2011 at 9:20 am with 3 Comments »
September 30, 2011 2:20 pm

Two writers and friends – Jim Caple and Alex Akita – both of whom have different backgrounds and writing styles, and two writers I really respect offer some thoughts on the students being moved to the end zone when the new Husky Stadium opens.

Caple, a proud Husky grad, wrote this story a few days ago …

The athletic department is doing this so it can sell the current student-section seats for a lot more money to older (i.e., wealthier) non-students who aren’t on daily macaroni-and-cheese diets. Worse, athletic director Scott Woodward insulted the students’ intelligence by saying, “They are really getting a bonanza.” Yes, he called it a bonanza. Sure it is, Scott! And the nearly 30 percent rise in tuition over the past two years is a gift to students that just keeps on giving!

Why do I care? Why does it bother me as an alumnus that the Huskies are opening up thousands of prime seats to myself and fellow older fans? Here’s why. Because when the students get hosed, the spray soaks the rest of us as well. The essence of college sports is that first word: college. Without the students — which also means the band and the cheerleaders — you don’t have college football anymore. You just have a slower, less talented NFL game without the fantasy leagues.

Students are crucial to the game-day atmosphere. One of the few ways left to recapture our youth is listening to the marching band play songs that were last popular a decade before we moved into our dorms. (The Husky band played Lady Gaga at a recent game, and I feared the NCAA would slap us with a two-season bowl ban for the performance of a song written within the past 20 years.) Singing your college fight song is medically proven to make you six months younger, and watching the cheerleaders dance is way more effective than Viagra or Cialis.

Akita, also a proud Husky alum and former Dawg Pack member , writes and designs the irreverent and humorous Seattle Sports Net blog. He also offered his thoughts … following up on Caple’s piece and talking about UW ignoring the students and the average, non-Tyee member fan. He sees it as a weakness of UW AD Scott Woodward in comparison to former AD Todd Turner’s one strength.

Where Woodward excels is as a master businessman. He’s a professional when it comes to raising money, building a brand, and selling a product. He glad-hands the boosters, gets them to open their checkbooks, and makes sure that the high rollers are taken care of. Not coincidentally, these are traits that Turner failed to possess.

Where Woodward suffers, however, is in getting the Average Joe (and more specifically, the young Average Joe) to feel welcome inside his circle of elitism. Think of it this way. Woodward is the owner of the swank night club that you can’t get into. He’s making loads of money off his existing customers, while alienating a much larger group of potential customers. His weakness is in engaging the students and recent college grads who will one day become not-so-recent grads with checkbooks of their own.

But where Woodward is weak, Turner was strong.

Under Turner’s direction, the athletic department strove to build a family atmosphere. This may not have been all that evident on the football field, where the head coach did his very best to neutralize Turner’s gregariousness with dickish behavior, but it was certainly apparent inside the friendly confines of Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

My thoughts: I always error on the side of the students. Yes, it’s that simple. My alma mater, the University of Montana keeps a good portion of the students in quality seating with some overflow into the end zone. And for a stadium that only holds 25,000, that’s a big deal. If we are going to call players STUDENT-athletes, then you can’t forget about the STUDENTS as a whole. We all know most of these sports get treated as business in every respect, can’t we maintain at least a minor aspect that help maintain the facade that isn’t all about money.

Leave a comment Comments → 3
  1. Geez the student body as a whole are really the biggest contributors to the UW. You would think the alumni would consider the student body and demand they retain their “premium” seating instead of allowing Woodward to steal it from the students. Greedy bastards!

  2. First of all, this is old news.

    Besides that, I too was appalled when I first heard of this, but I get it. All you have to do is take a look at the fickleness of fans…if they lose to Utah this weekend, then it will be FIRE HOLT and Sark doesn’t have them prepared, etc. If they win, it will be “we’re back! Rose Bowl, baby!”

    There’s no in between. Reality doesn’t modulate emotion…ever. That’s how it is in the SEC, They built a bronze stature of Nick Saban at Alabama, but they will throw him out in the street if they go through a three years period of 8-4. Don James never faced that sort of expectation. He had his own standards set very, very high, but there was a sense of trust that “our” coach would figure it out. People emulating the SEC don’t exhibit that sort of trust anymore. There is only pressure.

    The solution to that sort of pressure is to never miss out on an opportunity to bring more money in so you can say you did everything possible to make the program more competitive. Money is needed to bring in expensive coaches, and money is needed to fire them and bring in more expensive coaches. And, obviously, money is needed to keep up with Nike U, where they showed and unwilling Bellotti the door so they could upgrade to the Chipper.

    People want to say that Woodward is greedy? I think he knows he’ll suffer the fate of many an A.D. if Sark doesn’t win, so he has to give him all the tools, and that means money. The SEC has done this to all their students, so he can’t afford to be sensitive about it. It’s a cold blooded but necessary decision.

    I’m disgusted with the fact that the student section as we know it is going away, but I’m almost as disgusted at the moralizing that I’m hearing. Those national writers are of the same ilk that nonchalantly create the ridiculous pressure. But at the same time, if you really want someone to blame, look in the mirror the next time you find yourself talking about firing a coach or A.D. The pressure from us is what screwed the students over.

    BTW, that’s why I like Sark so much…he seems to negotiate all this will grace because he loves what he’s doing. It’s a rare guy who can do that.

  3. steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    This may be “old news” but it is just not right to take the students into the end zones. This will not help attendance and it won’t help donations from alumni of the future or of now (me).

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