The coaching merry-go-round
Rarely has so much anxiety attended the appointment of a university employee, and the issue is not who will replace Penn State University President Rod Erickson upon his retirement in June.
Rather, the object of deep concern had been who will replace PSU football coach Bill O'Brien, who left his $3.6 million a year post there to take the head coaching job for the NFL's Houston Texans, reportedly under a five-year contract worth $40 million.
Penn State's expected hiring of James Franklin, who had been the head coach at Vanderbilt University, diminished the anxiety among the Penn State faithful, but shifted it to Vanderbilt. Mr. Franklin had made a winner of a program that long had been a doormat of the powerful Southeastern Conference, while upholding Vanderbilt's academic integrity.
But the saga was just one aspect of an unusually volatile coaching merry-go-round this year.
No one need pretend that big-time college sports aren't big business, but they should remain tethered to the academic enterprise.
So, what if the NCAA adopted a rule to diminish the money chase, to breed a new generation of coaches who, while well-compensated, more likely would remain loyal to their institutions and their recruits?
It could do so with a rule that no college coach could be paid more than the president of the university, or at least, no more than the highest paid university president in the nation.
The tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in saved compensation then could be used to pay stipends to student athletes who work the equivalent of full-time jobs at their sports.
No, it won't happen. That's why, as reported recently by The New York Times, the highest paid government official in 47 states is a coach at a public university.
Meanwhile, no word yet from the Penn State board on a new president.