It has been intimated that Chancellor Block has little interest in the success of UCLA football. While I suspect this to be true, I don't know it as fact, and will therefore not address the chancellor. I will, however, address the issue at hand.
Bruin football must represent the excellence of UCLA.
Financial profit is reason enough for me. Invest wisely and the entire institution benefits. A purist, however, may contend a university, particularly a public one, isn't a business and shouldn't be run as such. As it pertains to the success of a football program, this argument holds no water at UCLA.
A university is defined as an institution of learning at the highest level. Some learn science, some learn art, some learn athletics. They should all be taught at the highest level in premier facilities.
But should athletics really be held in the same revere as academics? This is a university, after all. Athletics should simply be a complement to academics, right? The Athletic Department even says as much in its mission statement.
Let's consider. Why attend a university? For the education, yes, but what is that education for? To become a professional. A successful university creates successful professionals for society.
Why should athletes be excluded? Because they perfect their craft in the gym instead of the classroom? Sounds arrogant to me. In fact, I believe the Athletic Department's mission shouldn't be to simply field nationally competitive teams. It should develop student athletes into professional athletes. Like our science and literature departments equip their disciples to become elite researchers and teachers, the Morgan Center's goal should be to send players to the NFL, NBA, and MLB. This is truly advancing pupils to the highest level.
Now, if Harvard wants to specialize in academics and have an athletic department simply for the sake of tradition, fine with me. It's a private school. Likewise, if USC wants to be best known as "Tailback U," that's their prerogative.
UCLA is public. It's the school's responsibility to strive for excellence in all fields. Every public school should. Academic and athletic successes are not mutually exclusive. We can recruit premier athletes and maintain premier academic standards. This has been proven.
I've read grumblings (again, unsubstantiated) that top administrators loathe the idea of coaches receiving the highest salaries among university staff. I find this sentiment disconcerting. One cannot credibly claim to take the scholarly high road while ignoring basic supply and demand economics. This reeks of egotism. On the other hand, if it's simply about money, I cite envy. Refer back to the third paragraph above.
The endeavor of having a successful football program should not be perceived as pandering to drunken sports fans. A public school has the obligation to act in the best interest of its students. All of them. And while there are many public universities, UCLA should excel. We're not located in (with all due respect to Pullman, Washington) Pullman, Washington. We're in a beautiful area of a bustling city in the most progressive state in the country. We should attract the most dynamic administrators, professors, and coaches to attract topflight students. Yes, we should have the highest standards of any public university in all fields.