Stettner: CSU needs to check the balance between academics and athletics

If you saw even just a part of the Rocky Mountain Showdown this weekend, you would have been a little (or maybe very) disappointed with the results. It wasn’t CSU’s proudest moment, and it certainly was more difficult to swallow the loss since it was against our rivals down in Boulder.

It’s just one loss in our whole season, made more bitter by losing to Buffs. But the game and the dramatic loss begs the question, why is football so important anyway?


Besides being fun to go to games and the community it creates for students, the argument can be made that a strong college football program brings in benefits to the rest of the school. This could include increased enrollment, and generally more money to create research opportunities and hire more qualified faculty, which can increase a program’s size and reputation. These are important things for a growing university like Colorado State.

So football is important, but is it worth millions of dollars in salaries? And is it worth it when some professors work under high job uncertainty and for much less than the coaching staff?

According to Mike Bobo’s contract, while his personal salary is less than the previous coach, Jim McElwain, the salary pool for the entire coaching staff is $300,000 more than previously. Additionally, Bobo’s record has been substantially lower than McElwain’s. Even considering this is only his second season as a head coach, this is a large chunk of funds for an under-performing faculty member. And it’s important to remember, students pay salaries.

Clearly, this is not a black and white issue. There are many factors that need to be considered, but for CSU, a university that prides itself on research and the academic support each student receives despite our size, it is important to not lose that aspect to football. There needs to be a balance. Currently, it feels like the university is pumping so much into football with a new stadium and heavy salaries for program faculty.

There are new research buildings being constructed, but those are long overdue for the university’s size. Not to mention, we have a stadium in a great location that could have been renovated and put to use. Building a brand new stadium in a tight location does not follow CSU’s commitment to sustainability, and sets a precedence for future “exceptions” to be made for the football program.

As for salaries, there is no way to expect CSU to radically increase every professor’s salary, however, there should not be a wild gap between football coaching staff and the professors we interact with every day. Our professors and teaching assistants are the ones who are providing us with and education and the tools that we will use in our future careers. At the end of the day, we are paying tuition to be more prepared for the work environment, and I’m not sure if football is going to help us get there.

Part of the reason I chose to attend CSU instead of a private school in the city was because of the sports teams. College sports and events like the Rocky Mountain Showdown are nonetheless part of the college experience, and there’s no denying the fun in that. Another reason I chose CSU was because of the focus on students and helping them achieve success no matter what. This university has an incredible balance between college sports and the academics, losing that balance would be losing a part of CSU.