SMN: The $300,000 to the football coach represents at least three professors’ salaries. Is this cost worth trying to have a winning football program? Why pump this kind of money into athletics compared to academics in this day and age of massive economic constraints?
Chancellor David Belcher: “As I’ve said many times in my visits across Western North Carolina communities in recent months, I view athletics as a very important part of the university, for several reasons.
First, athletics plays a role in the development of student-athletes who participate in sports, providing them with leadership skills and helping instill in them foundations of teamwork and discipline that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Thus, athletics experiences are part of their educational pursuits.
Second, athletics is a critical component of the overall student life experience by helping ground students in the campus community and keeping them engaged in the university outside of the classroom. Third, athletics also helps keep alumni and friends connected to the institution, giving them something around which they can rally.
And fourth, athletics, just like the arts and cultural events, serves as a front door to the university, offering an entry point for folk in the community and the region who might not otherwise have a reason to set foot on our campus.”