"Iowa Voices" editorial by Laurent Hodges, broadcast on WOI-AM on January 30, 2003
Over the years, I've taught physics to quite a few athletes at Iowa State University - some of them poor students, others A plus. Once a wrestler was the best student in the large engineering physics course I was teaching.
Last fall I had a football player in my physics class. He was a very important member of the team, always featured in news reports of ISU games. Except on Fridays before an out-of-town game, he attended and paid attention in my class, did well on homework and exams, and earned a full A.
It's gratifying when students do well, especially when you believe - or they tell you - that you were instrumental in their success. For this, teachers receive regular salaries plus the satisfaction of knowing they've made a difference in the lives of many of their students.
During finals week, I learned that the football coach at the University of Iowa is paid nearly a million dollars a year, plus he is in line to receive nearly another million dollars in bonuses, mostly for the athletic success of his team.
What amazed, astounded, baffled me, however, was that he is line for a $500,000 bonus because his players are doing well academically!
You heard that correctly: The football coach at the University of Iowa is in line for a half-million-dollar bonus because his players are doing well academically.
Not the faculty. Not the teaching assistants. Not the academic advisers. The football coach gets the half-million dollars. Illogical? Preposterous? Ludicrous? Choose your own adjective!
I hope the Iowa State football coach isn't receiving any bonus for the academic success of his players. But he did receive a 48% raise after a 7 and 7 season. The faculty had a much better semester, in my opinion, but most won't receive even 1 percent as large a dollar increase as he did.
The University of Iowa coach also received a raise, smaller than that of the ISU coach, but his paltry raise was still more than most faculty receive for the whole year.
I don't want to belabor the obvious absurdity of all this. But let me just ask one question: If we're going to clone human beings, can we start by cloning Robert Maynard Hutchins?
If you don't remember who Hutchins was, he was the president of a Big Ten university whose coach had won more games than any other coach in college football, and one of whose players was the first Heisman Trophy winner. But when he thought college football was getting out of hand, he simply stopped it. Cold. He even let physicists carry out experiments at the old football stadium.
Today the University of Chicago is a far more prestigious university than Iowa or Iowa State. I think you know why: They stress academics over entertainment.