Regarding Richard Stagnoli’s recent letter, titled “We have football team with a university attached”:

On Jan. 9, The Advocate published “Oil prices could lead to future cuts to colleges and universities” by Mark Ballard and Elizabeth Crisp. The article appeared eight pages in. The same issue carried, on the front page, a lead to news about recruitment of a “defensive coordinator” for a university football team.

A slough of articles has dealt with the obvious interest of Louisiana readers in the “defensive coordinator,” whose salary is now known to range circa $1 million, virtually twice the remuneration to any academician on the same campus and many multiples of the wages paid to the typical instructor.

For years, repeated and stinging budget cuts have pulverized academics at Louisiana’s public universities. The next cut portends to be in the vicinity of $300 million.

If the state wanted to cut the budget, one BIG cut should have been made, years ago, for all time. What the academic community has witnessed, however, is like the cat, which, before biting off the head of the mouse, plays with it sadistically and repeatedly.

Louisiana’s phenomenon in budgeting is a problem in priorities, epitomized in column inches devoted to academics vis-a-vis athletics.

While the cuts occur in academics, thousands of seats have been added to a university football stadium, and football coaches receive evermore astronomical salaries.

These priorities cannot be excused by assertions that the academic allocation is from state appropriations and the football budget from private and voluntary donations. The money comes, in either case, from the same people, from Louisiana’s people, the people who read this newspaper.

Louisiana is making its choice — football over academics. It’s the signal we send to the rest of the world.

Other states have winning football teams and pay their coaches handsomely. But, if those teams lose, those states still have something to bank on. Yes, Alabama lost the Sugar Bowl, but a few miles outside Tuscaloosa is a sprawling Mercedes-Benz factory, showing the trust of a large multinational firm in the future of Alabama.

In Louisiana, the same firm invests in advertising, to emblazon its name on the Louisiana Superdome. Once that advertising contract is finished, no certitude of a continuing allocation exists, and in the meantime, the only jobs created were those to put the letters on the roof of the Dome.

Don’t like the priorities? What are you doing to change them? Educationally, Louisiana is falling further and further behind.

David Ramsey

Republican member, Tangipahoa Parish Board of Election Supervisors