Friday, October 24, 2014

UM: Hail to the half-measures

Remember a few weeks back, when I joked about what it took to get students to march on a university president's house these days?

Well, the joke's on me. 'Cause it worked, sort of.

Breaking news from Ann Arbor, where Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon -- whose ouster was the goal of a student march on the president's house a month ago -- has gone into panic/used-car salesman mode: Michigan has decided to slash student football season ticket prices close to 40 percent in an effort to get the students to come back to the football games. 

"A nearly 40 percent reduction in ticket prices is, I think it's fair to say, unprecedented," said Brandon, channeling Ed "Wheels A-Poppin'" McCracken or Harold "Harvest O' Deals" Fernblatt or maybe even Jerry Lundegaard from "Fargo."

The 40 percent reduction takes the cost to a student of seven football games from $280 all the way down to $175. Unfortunately (and here's the joke on Brandon) all that does is show just how out of touch most ADs are at your finer corporate football schools.

A hundred and seventy five clams?

I don't know how much Brandon gets out, but most of the college students I hear about these days don't have 175 cents to rub together, let alone $175.   That's why student debt, and the inability to pay it off, has become such a huge political issue. College costs too much and not enough of those trying to avail themselves of it can afford to do so without massive amounts of assistance.

Yearly undergraduate tuition at the University of Michigan runs anywhere from $13,486 to $15,186 depending on whether you're a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. And that's in-state tuition. If you're coming to Michigan from out of state, it's costing you anywhere from $41,906 to $44,848 -- and that doesn't include housing costs, book fees, etc., etc.

So now here comes Michigan's AD, offering seven football games for $175 like it's the deal of the century or something.

Well. Here's an idea, Dave Brandon: How about zero dollars for seven football games?

That's the way it used to be back in the days when athletic departments regarded students as students and not as an exploitable revenue stream. And that's the way it should be again. Because if I'm paying as much as $44,848 a year for tuition, the University of Michigan is already getting enough of my money.

So stop with the gouging already. Just stop.

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