Bad At Small Talk

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Of course the University of Kansas is justified in firing football coach Mark Mangino.

Not for wins and losses, but for conduct and economics.

A review: Arguably the most successful modern-era football coach in KU history (that doesn’t say much,) Mangino’s¬†future is uncertain following complaints from several players regarding his conduct and use of language. The KU athletic administration has seen enough credence¬†in these allegations to conduct a formal investigation, and if some of the accounts are true, Mangino’s words to some of his players count not only as abusive but borderline racist.

Kansas will not play in a bowl this year. I submit that the university would be justified in firing him regardless.

I am willing to venture a guess (this is a blog, which means I can speak authoritatively without actually bothering to look up anything whatsoever) that Mangino is one of the highest-paid state employees in Kansas. Surely he makes more than the school president whom he answers to.

The fact that most Division I revenue-sport coaches are a state’s highest compensated employees has long been a bone of contention for those who believe major college sports have gotten out of control. But the amount of state dollars that go to a coach’s paycheck take on greater importance in light of the economic crisis of 2008-2009.

There hasn’t been a shortage of public and private universities that have had to cut back on resources and even manpower thanks to losses in state funding or drops in endowment. Higher education, long considered a reliable island in rough economic seas, has gotten hit just like the rest of us.

What does this have to do with football?

Much has always been demanded of college coaches. Now we (fans, alums, students and state residents) have the right to demand more. Mark Mangino has rebuilt Kansas football. He has given the program national exposure, kept it perennially competitive, helped spearhead the building of new facilities and for the most part has kept his players out of trouble.

That used to be good enough. It’s not anymore.

One of the state’s highest-paid employees should not ever find himself in administrative hot water for vulgar and offensive statements. With the ravages of the recession all around us, we should not have to settle for a coach who wins and graduates his players, yet does so through questionable coaching methods.

State residents have a right to demand that the coaches at their public universities win games. They have a right to demand coaches who recruit players that are active in the campus community and fit the university’s academic profile. They have a right to demand coaches that embrace the role of being a high-profile state figure, and they have the right to demand coaches that can motivate and discipline athletes without crossing societal boundaries.

Maybe they didn’t have a right to make all these demands in the past. Maybe it takes a near economic collapse to recognize the importance of accountability for those we help fund.

The University of Kansas is justified in firing Mark Mangino. It would be equally justified in slashing his salary for dereliction of duties.

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November 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment