lsu locker room

A side-by-side of LSU's library and the new football locker room.

It is interesting to compare the columns of regular columnist Dan Fagan and guest columnist Catherine McKinney, who is an LSU senior, that appeared in this newspaper on July 24th. The topic of both columns was the juxtaposition of the wonderful new facilities for the LSU football team and the shabby condition of many areas of the campus, especially Middleton Library.

Dan, as usual, comes out swinging at anything he perceives as liberal — in this case the concern expressed by LSU professor Bob Mann about the lack of emphasis on education in Louisiana compared to athletics. Many donors would rather give directly to TAF, where they know it will go strictly to the university’s sports programs rather than academics. Of course, people can do what they want with their money, but it is those priorities that present the problem for a state like Louisiana that consistently brings up the rear in so many areas while everyone moans and asks “Why?” Or maybe they don’t care.

Dan approvingly quoted LSU quarterback Joe Burrow’s tweet about Mann wanting the fruits of our player’s labors. Burrow is a really good player, and I will be rooting for him this year, but he has an itchy Twitter finger. I trust his passes will be much more thoughtful and calculated this season. Dan (but I hope not Burrow since he is getting an education there) seems to think the university is an appendage of the sports program. Many in the public and apparently our legislators seem to have the same view, but the reality is vice versa. Academics will make or break the universities and the state. Dan talks about the athletic arms race and how we must keep up. If you want to scare yourself, go over and look at that “other” school’s campus in Tuscaloosa. There, everything is first class — academics and athletics. They are surpassing LSU in several academic areas where we were once ahead. This is from a state that never had the resources to match Louisiana’s. Go figure. Again, priorities.

Contrast cranky Dan to McKinney’s articulate and reasoned description of the issues. Her logic is impeccable, without snideness or a mean-spirited tenor. That young woman, that top-notch, five-star student, makes me prouder to be part of Louisiana State University than any sports success, which is saying a lot since I am a pretty big fan. I hope she can find a career and a life in Louisiana; we need her. And yes, the roof in my office leaks quite often when it rains, but I stopped “whining” about it a long time ago. I just keep a bucket ready.

James Wilkins

professor

Baton Rouge