Whitman a man with a plan for Illini

Whitman a man with a plan for Illini

I'd make a terrible athletic director. My instincts would rebel against requesting donations, not to satisfy needs, but to improve things that are already in place and adequate.

Call me a throwback to Doug Mills, who let UI facilities drift for a quarter century through 1966. Whereas "keeping up with the Joneses" is the new mantra, you'd find me immersed with the worthless knowledge that, as recently as six years ago, the UI athletic budget for 19 sports was under $50 million ... roughly the amount that the Illini will receive from Big Ten media distributions alone for the 2017-18 school year.

Somewhere along the way, the horse got out of the barn, shook off restraints and ran past Secretariat in full gallop.

They call it the arms race. In a nation, and particularly this state, under financial duress, and with so many people in need, major universities have joined a mindless chase to see who can waste the most dollars. Lavish amenities long since outdistanced essentials.

Thumbs up

While others express pride in the $170 million State Farm Center renovation, the picture before my eyes is extravagance. And my head shakes at the thought of "revitalizing" the Illini Union with an expenditure of who-knows-how-many millions.

Now, Josh Whitman is taking a $79 million football construction plan to the Board of Trustees. And here's the kicker. Given the vote, I would approve.

Yep, I'd vote in favor based on considerations that Whitman has researched it, is vastly smarter and knows a lot more about the program's necessities than a weary media wretch. He believes a glistening new building will attract better athletes and help Illinois win football games. As an example, some say there's a correlation between UI golf successes and Mike Small's remarkable facilities, even though the golfers were good before the outdoor facility was built.

Anyway, Whitman would get my vote, just after I acquired a clothespin, attached it to my nose and forced down two stupid pills ... you know, like Republicans backing Michael Madigan on the overdue state budget. Call it the best of wobbly choices.

Dollars and sense

I'd vote for Whitman's plan because these aren't real dollars, they're Monopoly paper. After raising a hoped-for $30 million from private donors, the remaining requirement of nearly $50 million could be borrowed at a 30-year pay-back rate (4.5 percent) of roughly $3 million per year. The new budget can handle that. Begin by taking last year's $2.5 million buyout set aside for Mike Thomas and applying it annually.

Then sit back and watch the current budget grow by leaps and bounds forever. Right?

So we'll see an Illini building with a new coaches' office ... when they already have one. We'll see a new weight training facility ... even though many of us look with awe at the current one. And of course new lockers.

Why? Because the UI's fiercest competitors have constructed better ones. That's what the arms race is all about. Give an architect an idea and he'll build Taj Mahal.

Constantly changing

Back to that horse. When did he sneak out of the barn?

Did it come with the first $100,000 coach's salary (Frank Martin received a $100,000 bonus this year just for taking South Carolina to the Final Four; 20 college football coaches topped $4 million last season) or when the first coach received more than the school president?

I think it occurred just prior to our collegiate leaders collectively losing their minds. This resembles a bar brawl in an old Western movie. One idiot slugs another guy and, first thing you know, everyone is throwing chairs and jumping into the melee.

When Whitman arrived, he said something that resounded in my ears. He stated the Illini will be breaking ground repeatedly, year after year, during his term. For him, hiring a new coach takes a week or two. This is constant.


Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at ltate@news-gazette.com


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Moonpie wrote on July 13, 2017 at 8:07 am

So much to work with thanks to Ancient Tate!

First off, The Legend is saying he really would make a dandy AD--maybe the best AD of all time and the right way, too! Yay! Let's go back to the 1950s! After all, he recently claimed to know more than Bill Self.

Secondly, the Lazy Gazoo will never tire of these cheerleader pieces deifying some Illini sports figure. They're easy to do and then it's time to adjourn and wheel the titanic egos down to the Esquire to pat each other on the back.

Best darn little cheerleader section in the Midwest!

michael loyd grays conscience wrote on July 13, 2017 at 11:07 am

In his apology on Reddit, "Han*******Solo" sent a message to his fellow anonymous posters."To people who troll on the Internet for fun, consider your words and actions conveyed in your message and who it might upset or anger," he wrote. "Put yourself in their shoes before you post it. If you have a problem with trolling it is an addiction just like any other addiction someone can have to something and don't be embarrassed to ask for help. Trolling is nothing more than bullying a wide audience. Don't feed your own self-worth based upon inflicting suffering upon others online just because you are behind a keyboard."

jjohnson wrote on July 13, 2017 at 9:07 am

I believe in freedom of speech and the freedom to make a jerk of one's self, which has been greatly facilitated by being able to type idiocy into blogs behind an anonymous name. Having said all that, I am not sure the First Amendment would be threatened and good taste would surely be served by having someone delete Moonpie's highly personnal, generally juvenile, posts.

John A. Johnson

Tucson, Arizona