Posts Tagged ‘bowl game’

No, Stanford Should Not Give Jim Harbaugh More Money

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Since Stanford football coach Jim Harbaugh took the Cardinal from a lowly 1-11 to a bowl-bound, #4 ranked powerhouse, Stanford fans have been worried that he will take his coaching elsewhere. The NFL or other schools, such as his alma mater Michigan, are willing to pay him very large salaries to take the helm for another team. As such, supporters of Stanford football and pro-Harbaugh advocates have made clear the position that Stanford should do what it takes to keep Harbaugh as Stanford’s coach–or, in other words, give him more money with a big new contract.

This is the wrong thing to do. Harbaugh is an excellent football coach, but that does not mean Stanford should give him more money.

The most recent calls for paying Harbaugh more have come from Hoover Fellow Alvin Rabushka, as well as an online petition echoing similar claims. Rabushka claims:

Paying millions to a football coach, even one of the top three in the country, is not in keeping with Stanford’s educational values, even though Stanford football competes against top national programs. Don’t the players deserve the same first-rate instruction in football that students receive in the classroom?

While this argument certainly has merit, I believe it is founded on an assumption that is actually a misconception. Yes, Stanford tries to excel in everything it does. But giving a larger contract to Jim Harbaugh actually runs contrary to this aim.

If Stanford were to excel equally in all aspects, and adding more money to the football program–i.e. paying Harbaugh more than his current salary of $1.25 million per year, or nearly twice the salary of President Hennessy and 13 times as much as the average associate professor at Stanford–did not take away from any other piece of the University, then the argument rests on different grounds. But the university does not excel in all different aspects and there is already a huge disparity in the amount of attention, value, and funding given to some parts of the school over others. Giving more to Harbaugh would make the discrepancy even worse and reaffirm the idea that some students are more worthy than others.

(more…)