Show Me the Money PDF Print E-mail
Posted by El Kabong, Notes From The Geetar   
Tuesday, 15 April 2008
My buddy Rock had a post today without comment. Rock is sometimes content to leave things unsaid. I, on the other hand, usually am not. That's a failing, I realize, but it makes me more fun at parties. As I looked that ad over, skin crawling, I started to think about how the athletic department makes its money these days, and how it compares to days of yore. When Kevin White arrived at ND, he had a reputation as a budget-balancer and fund-raiser. But we had an idea about the source of such acumen, and the good doctor has proven proficient in this regard. The Blue Gold game is now sponsored. Notre Dame now has "partners" and "teammates", not vendors. Only backlash from the old guard on campus prevents ads (and a video screen on which to show them) from showing up on the hallowed grounds of Notre Dame Stadium. As we watch the Golden Dome being parceled out in this manner, one could reasonably ask: Where are the donation-driven finances for athletics? Why are we watching the Roman soldiers of commerce cast lots for Touchdown Jesus when ND has never wanted in the past? Back in the day, names like Rolfs, Loftus and Eck were lauded for stepping forward and making improvements to Irish sports possible with their generosity. Where have all those flowers gone? It's a lot more difficult to convince people to part with their money for the good feeling it engenders rather than the chance to put a label on something, and Kevin White is proving he's not up to that task. Think about what we've seen during his tenure: The Gug. Built, to be sure, but so far behind schedule they had to break ground or risk losing the leadership gift that made it possible. The Joyce Center. Six years late, even a leadership gift by Philip Purcell hasn't been enough to really get things rolling. They're breaking ground in September, but still a couple hundred thousand short according to reports. The hockey project. An anonymous $15m gift (thanks to Coach Jackson, not AD White), and they're still $5m short of the goal. The softball stadium. Made possible by the legal settlement following the sudden death of a former player. Not exactly standard fundraising fare, although God bless Melissa Cook's parents for their generosity in a time of great pain for them. And that's it. Granted, you have the completed indoor golf facility and the soon-to-come crew boathouse. But on the grand scale, those are minor (though much-needed) projects rather than T. Boone Pickens-style windfalls. What does it say about Kevin White's ability to schmooze alumni and friends of the athletic programs that Frank Eck, he of the tennis pavilion and baseball stadium that bear his name, and who seemed to always be there with a helping hand when Notre Dame needed him, gave over $41 million to Notre Dame during White's tenure ... with none of it going to to athletics, even with major projects looming and late? We have a tardy basketball project that will end up spending more on a commercial Varsity Shop than on the student athletes. A hockey program coming off a title game appearance with the crappiest rink in just about any NCAA division. A championship-level Fencing program that practices in a virtual broom closet. A list of projects for track and field gathering dust on the drawing boards. And sports like tennis and baseball, recipients of previous gifts, whose physical plants are showing their age. All of which calls for a plan and for the solicitation of generous, Irish-minded folks who want to help make those projects happen. And where is Kevin White, the alleged financial wizard? Putting another piece of Irish tradition on eBay on the cheap. Because when you do that, you don't have to demonstrate you understand Notre Dame as much as you understand how much someone will pay for part of it.
 
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