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A look inside LSU football's new locker room

Envy is ugly. Some folks just don’t like it when others have nice stuff. Envy says, “Why should you have nice things when I don’t?” Nothing awakens the envious more than opulence.

LSU’s $28 million upgraded football locker room is gaudy, lavish, over the top and purple, very purple. Private donors paid for the immodest excess. There were no taxpayer or state funds involved. The extravagance is just too much for some. Especially those bent toward envy.

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“Meanwhile, across campus, I vacuum my facility office with a Dust Devil I bought at Walmart,” former Times-Picayune columnist and current LSU Manship School of Mass Communication professor Robert Mann whined on Twitter about the locker room upgrades.

Nobody likes a complainer. Especially when they’ve got a secure, cushy, six-figure job.

Quarterback Joe Burrow didn’t care much for Mann’s belly-aching.

“Why, professor, do you feel entitled to the fruits of our labor?” tweeted Burrow.

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LSU linebacker Patrick Queen tweeted, “Crazy people from your own school can't stand to see us be happy for something we worked for and didn't cost a penny out of their pocket!”

Baton Rouge sports radio talk show host Matt Moscona called Mann out, tweeting, “This facility is funded completely with private dollars. It has nothing to do with your vacuum.”

Mann replied, “I’ve said this 100 times: I don't begrudge LSU athletics anything they have and that they've built or purchased with private dollars. I only wish the state treated what happens on the other side of campus as equally important to the school's success as football, baseball, etc.”

Mann, known for his left-leaning politics, may have trouble understanding the concept of excellence producing value and then that value producing wealth. LSU’s football program is one of excellence, and as a result has been rewarded handsomely by fans, sponsors, TV networks and private donors.

LSU football revenue for the 2017-18 season came in at more than $86 million with a net profit of more than $55 million. The entire total revenue generated by all of LSU sports was only $103 million, with football making up $86 million of that. Of the 17 different sports played at LSU, only three, men’s football, basketball and baseball, showed a profit. The entire LSU athletic department would have lost millions in 2017-18 if it were not for the revenue generated by LSU football.

Financial success is far from a guarantee when it comes to NCAA college football. A 2013 NCAA study found only 20 Division 1 football programs made a profit. The report did not specify which schools made up the list of 20. Eighty-four percent of all Division 1 football programs lost money with their football programs, according to the report. The report also found all Division 2 and 3 schools lost money with their football programs.

The college football business is competitive, with not enough premier athletes to go around. For elite programs like LSU to offer potential recruits lavish facilities could go a long way in landing that highly sought-after athlete. Like it or not, college football is big business, and investing in facilities, although extravagant, can be good for business.

LSU’s football program would not be what it is without the hard work, dedication and sacrifice of the players. The NCAA currently prohibits players from getting paid. Giving them a fancy locker room, paid for by private donors, as the players make tens of millions for the university seems reasonable.

Mann whining about the quality of his vacuum cleaner based on the unrestrained luxury of the new LSU locker room proves the professor has a distorted view of success. He should celebrate LSU football program’s excellence. It’s so successful donors are willing to take their hard-earned money and contribute $28 million to improve its facilities. How is that anything but a good thing?

LSU’s football program ranks ninth in the nation when it comes to top schools bringing in private donations, according to Forbes magazine. It’s nice to see Louisiana on the right end of a list for a change. We should all be celebrating the success that is LSU football.

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