CONTACT: Marisa Cigarroa, News Service (650) 725-9750;
Director of Athletics reports to the Senate
In his first report to the Faculty Senate in five years, Ted Leland, director of athletics, discussed a range of complex issues, from recreational facilities to television revenues and the relationship between the athletics department and the office of undergraduate admission.
His 15-minute presentation, delivered on Jan. 8, was followed by a lively question and answer period that was cut short to make room for other items on the agenda. Due to faculty interest, Leland may be invited back to the senate later this year to continue the discussion.
One of the athletics department's biggest strengths is Stanford's active athletic community, Leland said. This, however, is also one of its greatest challenges.
"We have a community that really enjoys recreational activity. We have an undergraduate student body that really enjoys intercollegiate athletic competition. So it's difficult to keep up," he said.
Currently, there are plans to build some new intramural fields near the medical school and a new swimming pool in the DeGuerre swimming pool complex. But every time the university builds a new weight room or pool, Leland said, it fills up.
"At some point in time, we've got to stop building new facilities . . . [and] turn our attention to other priorities within the department," he said.
Richard Schupbach, professor of Slavic studies, sharply disagreed. He argued that the university has a responsibility to meet the demand for recreational and intramural athletics. The fact that this demand is not being met, he said, needs to be addressed. One solution, he suggested, is to extend the hours of public access to recreational facilities such as the Arrillaga weight facility.
"It opens up at noon to a line of 50 people who have been waiting there to get in," Schupbach said. "The place is instantly full and everybody is then kicked out at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. We can't continue to do this."
Schupbach also raised issue with the aging facilities at Roble Gym. "For those of you who have never seen the weight facility at Roble, it looks very much like the antechamber of King Tut's tomb. It is surprisingly small. It's hot. It's airless. And it's full of a hopeless jumble of obsolete recreational equipment."
Responding to these concerns, Rice said that the university is trying to restore some of the commitment to recreational facilities that was lost after the 1991 budget cuts. She pointed to the new weight room at Tresidder as an example of this effort.
At the same time, however, the provost conceded that the university might not be able to meet the recreational demands of every faculty and staff member. "I happen to have a membership at the YMCA for exactly that reason," she said.
Another big pressure point for the athletics department is its reliance on football income, Leland said. The annual television revenue from football, for example, ranges from $2.5 million to $3.5 million, depending on how much air time the team gets.
"It's a real concern for all of us," he said. "How much pressure do we put on admissions? How much pressure do we put on ourselves? How much do we put on our coaches to win in football games when, if you win this game, it is a $600,000 payday?"
Fortunately, Stanford has been able to keep this type of pressure in check, Leland said.
"Actually, I'm very impressed with the relationship that the admission office has with the athletics department here," Robert Kinnally, the new dean of undergraduate admission and financial aid, told the senate. "We hold the line, if you'll excuse the pun."
Stanford's admission office recognizes distinguished abilities in the areas of athletics as well as fine arts, for example, he explained. "And so, when we have an applicant who presents us with those kinds of accomplishments, we take them into consideration.
"We have disappointed the athletic folks more than a couple of times in my time here," he continued. "But the conversation is a good one. There is a level of understanding. There is no pressure from the [athletics] department."
Leland underscored Kinnally's point by saying that alumni would chase him out of the university if he attempted to win the Rose Bowl by admitting students who can't compete in the classroom.
During his presentation, Leland announced that the Rose Bowl, which traditionally has been between the Pacific-10 Conference champion and the Big Ten Conference champion, will soon change. Officials have revised the rules so that the Pac-10 champion goes to the Rose Bowl only three out of four years, beginning next year.
"Our alumni would be absolutely horrified if we finally qualified and didn't go down [to Pasadena]," Leland lamented.
By Marisa Cigarroa