If I may quote Kurtis Blow, basketball is my favorite sport. I grew up playing the game, and took great pride in quitting the napping pastures of baseball for the city-park hard courts. I spent every possible hour I could on the court, sometimes every available hour of sunlight, and I have the ankles, knees, and prolonged virginity to prove it.
Now, this is the time of year when people who adore the university get to offer more of their full-throated support, especially in the irony-free seriousness of social media. Behold, the Elite Eight has alleviated the $300 million dollar cut!
— Governor Walker (@GovWalker) March 28, 2015
And now we might have a surplus and job growth!
— Governor Walker (@GovWalker) March 29, 2015
Well, teachers should teach more, even if the students are travelling to the big dance! But really, as a lazy and entitled paladin for the status quo, I don’t have the work ethic to expand on that. Instead, I’d like to play with the crystal ball.
Over the weekend, UW-Green Bay basketball coach Brian Wardle accepted a job at Bradley University. (I don’t care what anyone says, Green Bay is way cooler than Peoria). First, congratulations to Coach Wardle. Like many UW staff and faculty, he is leaving his current state job, and the state itself, in search of better opportunities than currently offered (although our campus is small, Wardle is joining quite an exodus). Although my true passion is the future national champion UWGB women’s team, I also have heart for the men’s team, especially graduating senior Keifer Sykes; we had a great year and got totally hosed by only receiving an NIT bid.
Now, the issue here is a job vacancy, a “line” if you will; the UW is not a place where you want jobs to open, as they will likely be rendered to an undisclosed location. If Wardle’s vacant position is treated like many others on campus, we should expect the following:
- The position will be frozen (Update: Not frozen. The search is underway!)
- The position will be absorbed or eliminated or “efficiencied.” (Update: Not eliminated. The search is underway!)
- There will be no search until the budget and campus cuts are finalized. (Update: The search is underway!)
- No outside consultant firm will be paid to conduct a search, especially with the campus under an out-of-state travel ban and thus a virtual freeze on professional development funds. (Update: According to my peeps, GB has never used a search firm. Still, like other searches, this will have a budget and involve dinners.)
- An assistant will be named interim until the budget situation improves, with no increase in salary, and their assistant position will remain unfilled. Or… (Update: The search is underway!)
- A contingent employee will be hired for $2000 per game, until we can get back on our Jordans. (Update: The search is underway!)
Of course, there is no question that this position will be searched right away because, you know, recruiting. And like I said, I love the luxury that is basketball. It’s the luxury part that’s the issue. Having seen a preliminary list of cuts that apply to my side of campus, people are losing existing jobs as well as being denied the opportunity to work in unfilled/disappeared jobs—these jobs relate directly to our core mission. So now we’re into the “optics” of what it will mean to spend money to search for and fill the highest-paid job position on campus, one that is peripheral to a core mission we are struggling to fulfill.
Like I said, I love basketball. Student athletes sit in class with me and are nothing short of a pure joy. It is my privilege to work with them. What do I hope for? That we conduct the search with existing staff, just like we do faculty searches, and pay not one dime to an outside consultant or service. We have a new athletic director who has been praised to the rafters. I’m sure, that in these difficult times, she will run an efficient, innovative, flexible search with limited resources.
And, considering that I ran an intensive search in English last year, consider this, Athletic Director Mary Ellen Gillespie, my offer to run the search for you, free of charge. Okay, I’m not that qualified but I really do love basketball. I will serve on the search for the same fee I have received for the others: free (shared governance is cheap!). It will be my pleasure.
Update: I have been informed by a reliable basketball source and fan that UWGB has never used a search firm, which makes sense given our size. Given that, I will reveal the true reason for this post: now is the time that I am named the new head basketball coach. What could possibly go wrong? Look for the press conference as I begin the journey toward another life-long dream.
Update 2: Well, the search is already underway! And how’s this for a cryptic last line: “Gillespie plans to have no further comment on the coaching search until its conclusion.” Well, okay then. Sounds serious. The article does not detail who is on the search committee, but I’m assuming my services are not required. I consider this a sign of disrespect.
I leave you with this photo of a true American icon, Walt Clyde Frazier. Baller extraordinaire, with the best suits ever to hang in a locker.