Athletics and academics are two separate things. One doesn’t take away from the other. I realize this and have explained it to others many times. Still, the combination of headlines yesterday in the Mizzou universe was pretty jarring.
1. Mizzou Athletics got another large donation.
COLUMBIA, Mo. - The University of Missouri Department of Intercollegiate Athletics recently received its tenth, seven-figure gift to the Tiger Scholarship Fund and the new South End Zone Facility at Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field which is slated to open before Mizzou's 2019 football season. An anonymous donor made a $1.2 million gift toward TSF initiatives and the football project, currently being designed by the Kansas City-based architecture firm Populous, last week.
"We continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity of our donors who are stepping forward in record numbers with transformational gifts in support of the Tiger Scholarship Fund and the South End Zone Facilityt, both of which are critical to the long-term health of Mizzou Athletics," said University of Missouri Director of Athletics Jim Sterk. "While we still have work to be done before taking the South End Zone Facility project to the Board of Curators later this summer, the private support we have received thus far has provided great momentum to help make this a facility a reality for our student-athletes, staff and fans."
This gift marks the department's tenth, seven-figure gift in the past 11 months, which is a fiscal year record for Mizzou Athletics (the previous high was six such gifts). To date, more than $47.15 million has been secured in private donations for the new facility, which will include a four-story football team facility in the south end zone at Memorial Stadium/Farout Field as well as new premium seating opportunities for Tiger football fans.
Total costs of the project were set at $96.7 million at the last curators meeting in February. The four-story team facility will include a new locker room, coaches' offices, meeting rooms, weight room among other additions. The project will also feature new premium seating options in the south end zone.
“The board curators and Phil Snowden, he keeps pushing us, ‘What else you got?’” Sterk said Wednesday. “We’ll see what we have before (June or July). Even though it will be approved we’ll still continue to be able to raise money. The more we raise and get committed up front, the more we can dedicate to operational dollars from the revenue that’s generated from (the facility). That will really help us.”
This is an indisputably good thing for Mizzou Football, and as the Flutie Effect has taught us, a rejuvenated football program can be very good for morale, applications, etc., on campus.
2. MU planning for 12 percent cut to academic operations
Preliminary budget plans call for a 12 percent cut to academic operations on the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus in the coming year, with layoffs likely and the first program consolidation already announced, interim Chancellor Garnett Stokes wrote in an email distributed across campus.
Cuts to other campuses and system administration, while substantial, will be smaller.
The size of the cut, Stokes wrote, “will unquestionably impact our workforce, facilities and the breadth of services we provide. Good people and good programs will be affected.” [...]
A second consecutive sharp drop in enrollment on the Columbia campus and state budget cuts of about 6.7 percent for all state colleges and universities are forcing the moves. The incoming freshman class at MU is expected to be about 4,000, the smallest in almost 20 years, and overall enrollment could decline 5 percent or more. The St. Louis campus also is expecting enrollment to decrease by about 5 percent.
In April, Choi set a goal of cutting each campus by 8 to 12 percent to make up for state funding cuts and lower tuition revenue. The plans are now open to comment and discussion, with final plans expected at the system administration offices by May 19. On June 2, Choi will announce his budget decisions for the year beginning July 1.
12%! That’s rough.
Constantly insufficient funding has such an avalanche effect over time. It increases the likelihood of bad hires, which then increases the likelihood of MORE bad hires, etc., etc. The fight for money becomes more spiteful and political, and the wrong people become more likely to win those battles. The result: lesser quality, lower morale, and barring some miraculous hires, a worse product.
(That was a generic paragraph, not Mizzou-specific, mind you, but ... it certainly does apply to Mizzou to some degree.)
This is a bad time for Mizzou. A hostile legislature (which was already the case before November 2015 and is definitely the case afterward), a series of iffy hires, and a downward turn in overall morale/applications has led the university to a pretty dark place. It will come out of its funk one day, but in the meantime it’s pretty disorienting to see these headlines in the same day, even if one doesn’t directly impact the other.
- Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: one big inning killed Mizzou Softball last night. LSU hit a grand slam in the fourth inning of the opening round, and that was that. A late Mizzou charge came up short, and Ehren Earleywine’s Tigers were eliminated, 6-5. The loss takes them to 29-26 for the season, and even with a killer strength of schedule and top 32 or so RPI, that puts them squarely on the NCAA bubble. We’ll see what happens. More from the Missourian.
Quotes from Ehren Earleywine, Braxton Burnside and Cayla Kessinger after 6-5 loss to LSU at SEC Tournament: pic.twitter.com/UV0P9ys7YL— Joe Vozzelli Jr. (@JoeVozzelli) May 11, 2017
In postgame Earleywine said Jaquish's grand slam happened "on a pitch we didn't call." I'm guessing a missed sign.— Joe Vozzelli Jr. (@JoeVozzelli) May 11, 2017
- We’ve got a Tiger den brewing in Phoenix. Congrats to Blaine Gabbert for landing another pro contract.
Also: congrats to Blaine’s little brother Brett for picking up his first college offer. They grow up so fast. (He’s going to be a junior this fall.)
- Missouri’s newest SEC Legend: Dave Silvestri.
A two-time First Team All-American, Silvestri was a standout shortstop under Coach McArtor from 1986-88 and guided Mizzou to its first NCAA Regional appearance since 1981 as a junior during his final season with the program in 1988. He is the only player in school history to earn All-America First Team in two separate seasons. Silvestri remains one of the most decorated players to ever come through the Mizzou Baseball program. In addition to earning All-America honors in both 1987 and 1988, he was a two-time All-Big Eight selection, a two-time All-District V selection, and a 1988 All-Big Eight Tournament Team member.
- In other baseball news, former Tiger Ryan Howard tells the Missourian that he’s happy with how his pro career has started. He’s hitting .310 in high-A ball.
- The SEC Track & Field Championships begin tomorrow in Columbia East.
- Mizzou freshman golfer Jessica Yuen finished 27th at the NCAA Regionals, narrowly missing out on a spot in next week’s NCAA Championships.
- New PAPN! With Godfrey back out on paternity leave, I brought in HBCU Gameday’s Steven Gaither to talk all things HBCU. Nerded out. It was fun.