Charlie Weis was fired from his head coaching job at Notre Dame. I’d have to say that it was a justifiable firing although I also think Notre Dame has too high expectations, but that’s a post of a different color.
What interests me about Weis’ dismissal is that the Notre Dame Athletic Director, Jack Swarbrick, stated that Charlie Weis “did win a national championship at Notre Dame because the Irish finished first in graduation success rate this year.” However, Swarbrick also noted that the Weis firing was justifiable because “it is critical to this program and to its place in this University and college football that we compete at the highest level, that we compete for National Championships.”
Academic successes, however, could not save Weis’ job. Academic success is not the goal. In fact, most college football experts will say that winning football championships and having the highest of graduation rates do not go together (as they have been discussing this week on ESPN Radio and on ESPN’s TV shows). The best athletes in football rarely have the best grades.
Still, I like the bitter and revealing irony of Swarbrick’s comments. Collegiate athletic programs are more concerned with victories than they are with graduates. Perhaps this is a statement which is overly obvious, but it still resonates with me.
A part of me feels like this situation is somewhat analogous to the pressure applied to teachers in the classroom. Having high standards for students is ultimately important, but we’re asked to focus on passage or graduation rates. I have posted previously that I have been pressured to pass kids or make deals with kids rather than holding them to the requested high standards. This, to me, again shows that academics and learning are not the priority but numbers are. It sometimes comes down to a win/loss record first and foremost.
Or maybe I’m just feeling a bit cynical today.