TOUGH TALK FROM PREXY
At a recent meeting of college athletic directors, Dr. Willis Tate, president of Southern Methodist University and a man acknowledged to be a strong supporter of athletics, told his audience:
"Your profession is dying. Your programs are on a suicide course. The pros are smarter than you are. They have taken over. You are playing the game as if this wasn't so."
It was, in effect, a challenge to the athletic directors to institute progressive change.
One educator who took Dr. Tate's words seriously was Dr. Stan Marshall, president of Florida State University.
"Diminishing public support is currently one of the most serious threats to higher education and, whether all of us in academe fully approve or not, much public support is attracted to the university through our athletic programs," he said.
"I'm not talking just about financial support—though I mean to include that, too—I am referring to public respect for a university's mission, and understanding of its students and faculty."
Competition from professional teams is one of the problems being faced by college athletic programs, he admitted. Gate receipts are affected, and this "will probably become more serious in the future.
"But we aren't going to beat the pros," he said. "The best we can do is learn from them and work with them whenever possible."
Reductions in operating expenses for athletics can be achieved, he said, but this must be done on a regional or national basis.