JR Ball: Don’t blame LSU football for campus woes

    To the surprise of exactly no one, the instant the LSU athletic department proudly unveiled its latest keeping-up-with-the-jones Taj Mahal of a football operations facility and locker room the critics began charging with the ferocity of an Alabama defensive end heat-seeking a befuddled Tiger quarterback, writes Business Report Executive Editor J.R. Ball in his latest column. 

    Higher education leaders across the state, LSU student leaders and plenty of others were quick to compare and contrast the opulence of LSU’s football facility and the blighted state of the academic buildings.

    Look, feel free to complain about donors writing bigger checks to TAF than they do to the LSU Foundation, assuming they even bother writing a check to the academic side 

    But while you’re doing that, please also do this: Stop blaming football for these very real problems.  

    It’s the players who put their bodies on the line each and every Saturday night in Death Valley who win championships. And to get the kind of players LSU once got, and the kind Alabama and Clemson are getting today, the athletic department and TAF have to invest—legally—in whatever it takes to attract that talent. 

    And until the NCAA drops the amateur charade and lets universities pay their cash-generating athletes then fantastical facilities are the next best thing.

    The reason boosters give more readily to football is because that program aspires for prominence.

    There’s no talk about southern regional averages or celebrating the bottom of Tier 1 rankings. LSU football is one of the few things in a state that so embraces its mediocrity that actually strives to be the best.

    So, rather than drag football down, demand that F. King Alexander and everyone else running LSU come up with an equally audacious plan for academic excellence. 

    Read the Ball’s full column. Send comments to editor@businessreport.com.

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