NCAA towers over academia — that could make Baker’s job a tall order

“The business of college sports deserves to collapse” (Ideas, Jan. 8), William Devine’s fine piece on the NCAA and the challenges facing Charlie Baker as he assumes the job of president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, reminded me of what Gordon Gee, then president of Ohio State, said when asked if he intended to fire the football coach: “Are you kidding? I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me.”

Some laughed hearing this, but all recognized the essential truth in it: College football and basketball programs have swallowed the institutions that birthed them. The continued existence of some colleges is so dependent on the earnings of their football and basketball teams that all the professors and presidents essentially work for the teams, which is why college coaches are among the highest-paid state employees.

One might ask whether the very existence of certain “schools” is predicated on the coaches and players while the rest of the faculty and student body are so irrelevant as to be only an accoutrement.

Neil Ravin

Hampton, N.H.

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