What is the least funny joke?
One that endures long past its sell-by date.
Like "deez nuts," "BOFA," "Bye, Felicia" or any other mindless half-baked meme you want to conjure up, Auburn University's athletics department is again monkeying in the academic side of the university. Having already dealt with SACS accreditation issues (founded,) impropriety in its sociology and criminology programs (founded,) and a million other academic fracases, now Auburn athletics finds itself in the spotlight for trying to save Public Administration.
This is despite that fact that the program was labeled by the faculty and academic administration as a curriculum that did not meet nor contribute to Auburn's mission as, well, you know -- a college.
An extensive report Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal revealed that in 2013 the Auburn athletic department influenced top administrators to overrule the university curriculum review committee's vote to eliminate a public administration class that was not considered to be fulfilling the school's academic mission.
Think that's bad? Well, it gets worse.
Based on internal documents obtained by The Journal, top athletic officials offered to use athletic department funds to help pay professors and staff instead. Of the 111 students majoring in public administration in the fall of 2013, 51% were student-athletes.
That's right. Public Administration was so valuable to the football staff specifically (38% of the program's majors are football players) that Auburn's athletics department offered to pay educators to specifically not educate Auburn "student" athletes.
Think that's hyperbole? It absolutely is not.
“If the public administration program is eliminated, the [graduation success rate] numbers for our student-athletes will likely decline,” a December 2012 internal athletic department memo said.
Oh, hey! We're not really giving people an education, and it's awful that the curriculum committee wants to scrap the whole sordid undertaking, but, by all means our APR and eligibility has to be aided somehow, and what better way than a series of
sociology courses that the athletics department wants to pay for, because they know and have stated in writing their "students" need in order to graduate.
The WSJ piece is especially damning too in that Auburn officials admit that this was not the first such program that the athletics department was willing to support from its coffers. Those other programs were not disclosed, but the AD did cryptically suggest "[those programs] did not receive media attention."
What's the reaction at the Loveliest Trailer Park on the Plains? About what you'd expect.
The "outrage" from fans of other schools is stupid, too. Their ADs would do the same thing in the same situation. The fact that the athletic department offered to subsidize the major (the offer was rejected) makes me even less upset about it. If there's proof that this major gave easy grades, fake classes, etc (none of which has been alleged that I'm aware of), then I'll get outraged. But just lobbying to save a major that a large number of your athletes are in? Meh.
If anything, the story here is not that administrators tried (and successfully) pressured administrators to save certain courses in public administration. The story is the exact one CAM and others want to minimize: comingling of athletics funds to retain a major at Auburn that serves no academic mission. With that form of "meh" attitude, is it a wonder that Gene Chizik wound up at UNC, an institution facing NCAA penalties for sham courses, sham majors, non-attendance "classes" and a host of infractions that would arouse Barry Switzer.
Well, I'll give the Auburn PA grads this: When they go pro in something other than football, and are installed in city governments throughout Alabama and Georgia, they will have a head start on operating in an environment of deeply-instilled cronyism, corruption and cynicism.