Focus on Athletes, not Coaches

Just when we thought Janet Napolitano was going to try and have a quiet quarter, she decided to try and pull a fast one on the UC Board of Regents at their most recent meeting. In a classic example of our beloved UC president trying to act like she’s actually getting things done, Napolitano approved a measure to tie the financial compensation received by UC coaches to the academic performance of their athletes, and then she put the policy up for a vote by the full board at last Thursday’s meeting.

Great work, right? Wrong. The board members didn’t pass the policy and with good reason. Their rationale: A similar policy is already in place for all except one of the more than 120 varsity athletic teams within the UC system. Her proposed measure would barely have made a difference and, as such, was tabled by the regents to be worked on over the upcoming months.

As far as raising salaries for UC employees goes, Napolitano seems to have made it a point to do everything in her power to pay high-ranking UC officials more than is financially feasible, just to do their jobs. She made it her mission to do so a couple of months ago with a steep increase of tuition over the next five years in order to pay top administrators up to 20 percent more than what they already make and is now trying to do the same for coaches.

 In an email to the UCSD Guardian, UCSD Director of Athletics Earl Edwards commented that he felt that the policy would really have only changed guidelines at one UC campus — UC Riverside — and that enforcement of the policy could have negative implications.

“Tying bonuses to something that’s somewhat required already by the NCAA and being reached by nearly every institution could be perceived as a reward for doing something you’re already supposed to be doing,” he said.

Even Lt. Gov. and ex-officio board member Gavin Newsom was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying, “We are doing almost nothing here under the illusion we are doing something.”

So in lieu of pretending to get things done, what can Janet actually do for us? That’s a fantastic question, for which we’ve come up with a couple of answers. For starters, she can try to implement a policy that will actually, tangibly help the athletes on UC teams. As was mentioned in a previous news story published in the UCSD Guardian, the “San Francisco Gate reported that, in 2013, UC Berkeley’s football and basketball teams had the worst graduation rates of the 72 top athletic schools in the country.” Napolitano’s proposal was, in some roundabout way, supposed to help remedy this problem.

Instead of throwing money at coaches to try and make them somehow keep players’ GPAs up, she could start programs to directly help athletes with academic concerns and personal woes and help them succeed as students and not just as athletic poster children for university fundraising. She could also address the ailing recreational and athletic facilities at most of the UC campuses and try to help fund repairs and upgrades for those.

There’s a lot of things that Janet Napolitano and the UC Board of Regents could be doing with our money. Unfortunately, they seem to have lost their way a little bit too often in the past. Hopefully, the rejection of this particular policy by the regents is a sign of better times to come for UC students.

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