Bowl ban, skewed priorities

Dear President Shalala:

I have been unwavering in my support for you since the day I walked onto campus for freshman move-in in August 2003.  You were omnipresent on campus during my time at UM, through good times and bad; I remember you at the debates in 2004, and also at the memorial services for two of my classmates.  You have indisputably done great things for my alma mater, from raising the university’s national profile to collecting hundreds of millions of dollars of donations.  At this point, however, your disdain for the football program can no longer be overlooked.

After your first two years in Coral Gables, the Hurricanes won one (or two) national titles.  Since then, you have done everything in your power to hobble the football program.  There were the almost understandable money grabs of moving to the ACC and dumping the historic Orange Bowl like it was nothing more than a bad date at the late, lamented Rathskeller.  And then Nevin Shapiro happened.  You feigned outrage, but took no responsibility.  You pledged an investigation, but have done nothing to defend our players against obviously trumped up allegations.  Now, instead of resigning yourself, you have decided that our brand new coach and his team should bear the brunt of the punishment by forbidding them from participating in the bowl game they earned.  Enough.

Ever since Howard Schnellenberger stepped on campus, The U has been a football school in the public’s imagination, just as surely as Notre Dame or USC are perceived as football schools.  There is no shame in this.  You seemingly equate athletic prowess with academic underachievement.  The University of Miami deserves better.  Every time you throw the athletic program under the bus in order to appease U.S. News & World Report, you reveal yourself as Miami’s false ally.  To echo Jerome Brown’s infamous cry of support for the football program: Did the Japanese sit down and eat with Pearl Harbor before they bombed them?  No. We’re outta here.

Patrick Gibbons is a Class of 2007 University of Miami alumnus.