I find the current discussion about the transfer of funds (“donations”) from the athletic department to LSU academics disquieting. It brings to mind the classic debate of “which came first. the chicken or the egg.”
As an emeritus faculty member at LSU, I was always dumbfounded by the apparent belief that the athletic department was independent of the university. As if it could exist on its own, owing nothing to the university. That the revenue it generated should be considered separate from the university's as a whole. I do recognize the impressive ability of the LSU athletic department to generate income due to the stature of its athletic programs, especially football. But in the business “enterprise” paradigm that our new AD would like to suggest, wouldn't the athletic department have to lease the vast amount of land that its buildings and facilities occupy? And what about the cost of significant infrastructure needs beyond its physical plant?
Not to mention the considerable cost of providing for a student population; which is the ultimate reason for an institution of higher learning in the first place. I'd like to see a projection that one of our esteemed economics professors might come up with as to the cost that an independent athletic department would incur doing business within the university confines. I'm pretty sure it would be far greater than the amount that has been transferred in recent years. I was never a big fan of the previous AD, but I do praise his efforts to include at least a portion of the surplus athletic department proceeds in the university coffers. But shouldn't that be self-evident? Because I'm pretty sure that the university came before the athletic department, which should not be allowed to consider itself, and its revenues, separate.