Ramblings from a Boston Boy stuck in New York
Open Letter to Jack Wilson, President of the University of Massachusetts
24-October-2010Posted by on
I recently read the following article on Boston.com – UConn scores by spending more – The Boston Globe. As a UMass Amherst alumnus, I am extremely disappointed to hear that my alma mater is hurting so badly and slipping down the charts with regards to its academic and research performance. This school, which has graduated myself, my wife, my sister, my brother-in-law, and my brother, was once one of the best institutions of higher learning in Massachusetts. Now, from all accounts, it’s littered with run down buildings, sub par research facilities and students who are not necessarily the cream of the crop.
I implore you to follow UConn’s lead and empower the athletic department to start raising money for the rest of the university. Make your flagship university just that – THE most sought after university in Massachusetts! Build your OSU, your University of North Carolina, your Michigan!
Start with the mens’ basketball team. UMass Amherst already has the infrastructure in place. We currently have a reasonable size arena to play in. The roughly 9,500 seat Mullins Center is similar in size to the 10,000 person capacity (including standing room) that perennial powerhouse Duke has in its Cameron Indoor Stadium. Let’s starting bringing in top talent, playing top-level teams and building a winning tradition. You’ll fill the Mullins Center EVERY game! You’ll get the student body very involved. You’ll build the magic that was present in the early to mid ’90s during the Camby/Calipari era. Work the basketball team, get them profitable and make us all proud. Then turn your attention to the football team…
As a UMass Amherst alumnus, I was extremely proud of MY team hanging with a big-time school like Michigan this year. And, to be able to watch my team on TV was even better. Now, imagine if you could have the UMass Amherst student body filling the football stadium, going crazy over our team. Imagine the alumni that would travel to western Massachusetts to see their team take on the powerhouses of college football. Imagine the money that the gate, concessions, parking, etc could generate if we filled a big-time stadium. Let’s make this happen. A big-time football team AND basketball team could mean millions of dollars to the university – money that could be used to bring the academics to a level that would compete with any university in the country.
Yes, you’ll need to spend money on athletics and not academics at first. And, yes, you are first and foremost an academic institution. But, please, use the tools at your disposal. I would love nothing more than to go out and buy a $100+ football jersey for the great, Heisman-trophy worthy quarterback we have or buy a replica jersey for our All-World point guard. But, right now – we don’t have that. And, right now, UMass isn’t bringing in the money that sales like these would produce. You’ve got the tools in the tool belt – break them out and start building!
I have twin daughters and my sister and brother-in-law have a son. Many of our classmates have children as well. All are products of UMass alumni. My family and friends would love nothing more than to have our children go back to the University that meant so much to us. But you, Mr. Wilson, need to make the right moves so that our children can enjoy the same great education that all of us received.
Dan DeLaiarro – Class of 2001