Posts Tagged ‘college athletics’

Troy University Edges out Auburn U. and Alabama

August 18, 2009

TROY UNIVERSITY’S  ATHLETIC DIRECTOR TALKS MORE ABOUT ACADEMICS THAN ATHLETICS WHEN HE ADDRESSES PHENIX CITY ROTARIANS

Steve Dennis, Troy University Athletic Director,  speaking to Phenix City Rotarians, Phenix City, AL

Steve Dennis, Troy University Athletic Director, speaking to Phenix City Rotarians, Phenix City, AL

According to Forbes magazine, Troy University is the number one university in Alabama, edging out both Auburn U. and the University of Alabama.  That’s what Troy’s Director of Athletics Steve Dennis told members of the Phenix City Rotary Club Monday.  He said that Forbes listed the rankings of all U.S. universities and Troy came out ahead of all other Alabama schools of higher education.

He spent the majority of his speech on academics,  how the school makes learning its top priority, and how important online learning has become.  He says the school has a number of online course now,  but that is just the beginning.  Troy U. hopes to eventually offer just about all of its course online.  He was especially proud of  Troy’s program of teaching America’s active duty military personnel,  commenting that soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are now taking online courses.  

While he did emphasize academics, he also made it clear that college life is about a lot more.  “It is where young people start deciding who they really are,  what they plan to do in life, and quite often meet their life-partners.” 

And, while he didn’t concentrate on athletics, he did make it clear how important athletic programs are for students.  He said coaches are primarily teachers, mentors who have a tremendous responsibility of instilling the proper values in their students, not just winning,  but being responsible human beings.

When he did get around to discussing athletics, he did admit that some coaches make millions of dollars a year, and that includes both Auburn and Alabama.  But, he said,  if a coach is in it just for the money, he is not the type of coach that Troy wants.  He said when Troy learns that an applicant says he is in it for the money, Troy looses interest in that applicant.  Troy wants coaches that are in it because they love the game and they love positively molding young people.

Afterwards I asked him what his head football coach makes.  He said, “$300,000.”  I said, “Why is he making that when coaches at other schools, schools like Alabama and Auburn,  are making millions?”

He explained that Alabama and Auburn are SEC teams,  and making millions for coaches on those teams is standard.  However, Troy is a Sun Belt Conference team and his coach, Larry Blakeney, is making a top salary for that division.  No doubt, he should, because he is the winningest coach in Troy U’s history,  and the fourth winningest coach in state history, only behind “Bear” Bryant,  Cleve Abott, and Shug Jordan.

“Isn’t the tail waging the dog when so much money is being spent on athletics, money that should on academics?”

He said that school teams pull in millions of dollars for the schools, and that the money doesn’t just go for athletic programs, but also for academic buildings, etc.  Some it goes to the huge, nationally honored,  Sound of the South Band that plays for the halftime ceremonies. He added that academics is the top priority for schools, and that athletic programs are the tail of the school.

Maybe so, but when that tail wags,  mammoth stadiums fill up,  and millions of folks sit in front of their television sets to watch.  Millions of dollars are wagered on outcomes,  and many conversations are dominated for days by what happened on the football field.

Troy University has campuses in Troy, Dothan,  Phenix City, and Montgomery in Alabama,  and facilities in 14 other states, including one in Atlanta.  It also has facilities in nine other countries.

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