Monday, May 4, 2009

Barry v. Biddy

Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! The chant Howard Cosell launched into in Kingston Jamaica in 1973 when George Foreman mauled Joe Frazier in the so-called “Sunshine Showdown” will live forever in boxing lore, and there’s another potentially huge heavyweight match today in Madison.

When the UW Faculty Senate meets, in one corner will be the reigning Chancellor of the UW, Biddy Martin; in the other, the reigning Athletic Director, Barry Alvarez. At issue: who really, really runs the jock palace: the University, or The Athletic Director.

My money’s on Barry.

Biddy and her faculty senate have to decide whether or not they’re going to take a secondary role in deciding who actually hires coaches, how much they’re paid, what their “bonus” criteria will be, and just plain is in charge.

Riding a wave of his tremendous success as a coach, Barry named his own replacement for that job (Bret Bielema), and put him into the position. Posting the job? Oh, ah, we forgot. My bad. Barry wisely had some other administrator take the fall for that “little” oversight. He’s pretty much had his way with the Athletic Board, which has, let’s face it, become a rubber stamp.

Never mind that the real and true rule by which the jock kings must abide says “Head Coaches are appointed by the Chancellor and the Board of Regents, on the recommendation of the Athletic Director”. That rule sort of got lost in the shuffle, and enough faculty members are displeased that they’ve essentially asked Biddy to rule on it.

She’s in a dilemma…classic definition: two choices, both bad. Choice one is to support the rule, but she does so at the risk of incurring the displeasure of the corpuscles…the old white guys who wear Cardinal and White and raise so much cash for the jocks. And this is a critical time for having some cash in the bank. Choice two is to bend to Barry’s will, and allow him to be King, and put him above her in naming head coaches and making big decisions. But she does so at the risk of sending a clear signal to her faculty and the state legislature and the Board of Regents that she’s just another jock-sniffer.

To abuse my wife’s favorite movie line from Betty Davis in All About Eve: fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night. Or, in this case, meeting.

As I said, my money’s on Barry.

1 comment:

  1. Biddy sided with Barry at the meeting, but despite her objections, the faculty Senate voted overwhelmingly to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the Athletic Board. Barry was there and left not happy.

    Barry (not the Alvarez)