Posts Tagged ‘follow up’

Follow-up: Debating Harbaugh’s Salary

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled, “No, We Should Not Pay Jim Harbaugh More Money.” Not surprisingly, this generated a lively, and mostly fruitful, discussion that included a number of War and Peace-length comments. I want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the points from the comments and also offer a few more rebuttals.

But first, two important items of business:
1. Congratulations to the football team–they’re going to the Orange Bowl in Miami to take on my cousin’s beloved Virginia Tech Hokies.
2. Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby has already offered to “sweeten” Jim Harbaugh’s contract to try and convince him to stay.

Now, back to business. One popular argument in favor of raising Harbaugh’s salary is that it he brings in more money for the school (or, more accurately, the Athletic department, since both his salary and the resulting benefits are essentially self-contained within Athletics). As Tkim writes:

Football has the chance to fund every other program in the athletic department (if Josh, you would actually come to the games). The ROI on the investment is much higher with Harbaugh.

This is true, but using this as reasoning creates a problem. If what matters is the amount of money brought in, there are a number of other obvious ways we can increase this quantity. The first is obvious: we can stop holding our student-athletes to high academic standards. Every year, our athletics program turns away thousands of talented athletes because of insufficient academics. Accepting these athletes would undoubtedly make our football program better and therefore more lucrative, but does that mean we should do it?

My guess is that most, if not all, Stanford supporters would be against lowering academic standards because considerations outside of football are important. Harbaugh himself has been vocal about the importance of putting the student in student-athlete. At other schools, football players are students in name only (see: Heisman-trophy winner Cam Newton of Auburn). But that’s not adequate reason to say that we should allow that.

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