It's happening again. The University of Maryland is about to pay millions of dollars to its football coach so they can fire him a year early, and proceed to hire a new football coach and pay him millions of dollars. All this at a time when the university is desperately strapped for cash, after years of hiring freezes, salary freezes, and unpaid furloughs for its employees.
What's truly astonishing is that U. Maryland did exactly the same thing just four years ago, and it has been a complete disaster. Here's how I described the scenario in 2011, when I was still a professor there:
- Pay $2 million to buy out the old coach, Ralph Friedgen, and hire a new one, Randy Edsall who will presumably boost attendance and revenue.
- Hire Edsall for $2 million per year, who then produced a losing season (2 wins, 10 losses), leaving games with even lower attendance than before.
- Because football is still losing money, get rid of 8 other varsity sports.
Yes, they really did eliminate 8 other sports in order to invest more in football. Here's what they cut: men’s cross-country, indoor track, outdoor track, men’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis, women’s acrobatics and tumbling, women’s swimming and diving, and women’s water polo.
None of this produced any tangible benefits, either financial or academic.
Now let's look at what U. Maryland is about to do now, after several embarrassing blowout losses this season:
- Pay $4.7 million to buy out the current coach, Randy Edsall. That's $2.1 million for the rest of this season and $2.6 million for next year.
- Hire a new football coach and pay him at least as much as the old coach.
- Continue to impose unpaid furloughs and pay freezes on academic staff across the board.
Even worse is the shameful abuse of the players, who serve as unpaid laborers while their coaches make millions. "We give them a free education," administrators and coaches respond. Yeah, right. College football is a multi-billion dollar industry, in which the athletes at the center of the game are prohibited from taking any money. Just pay them, and they can decide if they want to pay tuition with their own money.