(side note for my inner monologue: this is my second straight "sweep" title, I'm on a roll)
(double side note: This story is intended as an editorial and may not reflect the views of Uncensored, TC, StateofMind, pbysh, or any other T-Nation affiliated writer)
By now most of you have read that Florida State President Thomas Kent Wetherell officially announced the University's intentions to appeal the portion of the NCAA's ruling regarding the vacation of wins. Or maybe you saw it flashing prominently on the ESPN crawl during the basketball games that virtually every sports fan was watching. Or maybe it was on your local news, in the newspaper, or you received an email about it. I don't know, it seems like Thomas Kent would have taken out ad space on the moon if he could have gotten his picture in one more place.
For a moment let us disregard the fact that this appeal is the equivalent of O.J. Simpson appealling the jail time he served during his 1995 trial. Let's just consider some of the ramifications of what Thomas Kent said and did yesterday.
Some of you will remember that when Florida State initially announced its intentions to fight the vacation of wins ruling I was very supportive, but I maintained that the school should only go so far as to not press the NCAA into further punishment. It seems like that's exactly what Thomas Kent is doing with these types of actions. There's no middle ground with this man. He is either off hunting somewhere and not really paying attention, or he's going to the mattresses with the NCAA over the slightest thing. Do you think his continued grandstanding on the public stage, first over the mascot issue and now this, is going to positively influence our future interactions with the NCAA's administration?
Different sources have printed different quotes from Thomas Kent's press conference yesterday. One, above all, stood out to me from Warchant's coverage of the event.
"Penalize the institution. Don't penalize the kids. Don't penalize athletics for something they didn't do (Quote by Thomas Kent Wetherell, article by Derek Redd of Warchant.com)."
I am currently a PhD student at Florida State. I also attended Florida State during my undergraduate and Master's education. Many of you can also call Florida State your alma mater, so we're obviously passionate about the entire school, not just the football team. The above statement is both absurd in its idiocracy and poignant in its typicality. For almost his entire tenure as President of Florida State University he has shown a complete disregard for the majority of the functions of a top-level university in favor of the functions of a semi-professional sports team. Once again, he would rather the NCAA hand out punishments to the academic arm of the school rather than the athletic. I'm sure Thomas Kent would argue that he has a different interpretation of his statement, but can his past actions really support his cause?
Thomas Kent's involvement in the Chiropractic school fiasco was pathetic. Here is a link to the initial 2000 report requested by the Florida Senate regarding the role of chiropractic treatment in the medical field, the need for chiropractic education, and the potential implementation of a Chiropractic School at Florida State. I will call your attention to page 163. The report itself discusses the rising need for healthcare workers as Florida's population continues to grow, and that population continues to age. Scroll to page 164 and check out Exhibit 9-2, estimating the future need for different types of healthcare workers. Notice Chiropractors? Notice that the annual need for new chiropractors in the state is around 182? So, as President, did Thomas Kent decide that this particular endeavor, while possibly noble-I'm not going to debate that, would be rather meaningless for the development of trained healthcare professionals? No. He decided that rather than give full support to the new College of Medicine, which would both help the community and Florida State's reputation, he would instead back the lobbying efforts of FSU's best friend, Jim King (I'm choking as I type that), to make the Chiro School a reality. Example #1 of Thomas Kent placing his friends and his interests above those of the University.
Since the mid-1980's Florida State has shared its Engineering School with FAMU. What began as a cost saving measure between the two schools has turned into a disservice to each of the fine Universities. The E school, while producing many skilled a qualified graduates, still ranks well below what a major public university in one of the largest states in the country should as a result of the divergent goals of Florida State and FAMU. A successful E school is also an important factor in most national rating services' assessments of a school, and the quality of the Florida State-FAMU Engineering School, Nursery, and Golf Course greatly diminishes our national ranking across the board. Recently, there has been a push for a divorce between the two universities, allowing each to create its own E school, and probably enhancing the quality of education for both schools' students. Has Thomas Kent given impassioned speeches in front of national media defending his engineering students? Nope. Florida media? Nope. Tallahassee media? I think he was quoted in the Democrat if that counts. Thomas Kent would rather fight for the football and track teams than the University as a whole. Example #2 of his misplaced priorities.
I could go on all day, but I'll stop by asking this question. Can you name 3 things that Thomas Kent Wetherell has done that has positively affected the academic reputation of Florida State University? Not things that Sandy, or any other presidents for that matter, started and Thomas Kent was able to finish. Things that Wetherell created, developed, implemented, and succeeded with during his time as President of Florida State University. I'm asking because I'd really like to know. I'd like to know what kind of performance makes a man worthy of a national top-ten salary for public university presidents in a state that drastically underfunds its students and is already strapped for cash.
The role of the President at any major university that wants to be more than just a diploma mill is to fight for education. To bring in programs and dollars that will enrich the academic community, attract top students, produce the highest quality graduates, and have the most successful alumnae. This should be the goal of Thomas Kent Wetherell.
Instead, the President has chosen to make the hiring and firing of coaches and Athletic Directors, the naming of successors, and the defending of Bobby Bowden's legacy the primary mission of his presidency.