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BIGGI: Men’s basketball distracts from other aspects of MU

Nick Biggi

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BIGGI new1If Marquette did not have a basketball team, it is hard to say whether a majority of the student population would go here. But following this disappointing season, I see that going to Marquette has little to do with basketball for me.

Marquette spends the second-highest amount of money on basketball of any NCAA team in the country. In the time since Marquette’s only national championship in 1977, Duke, the only program that spends more, won four NCAA championships.

Admittedly, some of my favorite days of the year are game days. But I feel the result of a sub-par season led to disappointed donors, administrators and prospective students.

The heavy basketball culture at Marquette was best displayed when Buzz Williams announced he would take his talents to Virginia Tech. A coach leaving for a lesser program is understandably confusing, but so is the president of the university resigning out of the blue.

The stories about the Rev. Scott Pilarz and Williams’ departures are similar. Both held high positions at a top-notch university and both chose to leave and pursue what could be considered lesser jobs, with Pilarz becoming the president at Georgetown Preparatory High School.

After all the media coverage surrounding Williams the past couple of weeks, I could give a few guesses as to why he walked from Marquette. Pilarz? No idea. Not to mention Marquette’s next president just happened to be chosen after the uproar of the head basketball coach leaving. The university coincidentally made the big announcement that the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Michael Lovell would be Marquette’s new president days after its cash-cow Williams quit.

The reaction to the announcement about Lovell was lackluster in comparison to the announcement of new head coach Steve Wojciechowski that came about a week later. Lovell becoming the first lay president is one of the most historic moves in Marquette’s existence. But this fact is kind of mundane compared to the new coach at a school with a basketball culture as rich as ours.

But what about the sports other than men’s basketball? They fail to get the attention they actually deserve. The level of both the men’s and women’s soccer teams are consistently at the top of the nation. The women’s basketball team made it to the NIT this year, while the men’s did not.

Basketball will always be part of the culture at Marquette, and I love that. It will also continue to be a major draw for people toward the university. But knowing our basketball program is the second most expensive in the United States is frustrating when more could be done with that money.

Almost any student will say there are numerous programs or buildings that need revamping, and I think the university agrees, but it all comes down to money. What ever happened to reconstructing McCormick Hall? Why are my friends at Boston College eating salmon for dinner and I am nibbling on fried beef?

Marquette has a lot going for it outside of sports. Although I think basketball is a great way to be introduced to the university, much more of Marquette’s excellence can be found and experienced outside of the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

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7 Comments

7 Responses to “BIGGI: Men’s basketball distracts from other aspects of MU”

  1. MUWarrior on April 10th, 2014 9:42 am

    Wow, this may have been the most ridiculous and ignorant piece I have ever read. A new low for the “Trib.”

    Congrats, “Biggi”!

  2. WeAreMarquette on April 10th, 2014 9:55 am

    Al McGuire once told the parent of a student just like this moron (upset that basketball was so important around here) that if he could get [18,000] people to pay to watch his son study and donate millions to the university, he’d be happy to find him a scholarship.

    That parent must have been Biggi’s grandpa.

  3. FrontRowEagle on April 10th, 2014 10:49 am

    Nick, I disagree with a lot about this article.

    “The reaction to the announcement about Lovell was lackluster in comparison to the announcement of new head coach Steve Wojciechowski.” The reactions were just different. Not in a good or bad way. It may have been due to the news of the new President was made around 11:40 p.m., while Coach Wojo was in the middle of the day. I for one, did not find the news of a new President “mundane.”

    “But I feel the result of a sub-par season led to disappointed donors, administrators and prospective students.” Do you have sources from all three of those groups of people to support that they were disappointed?

    “pursue what could be considered lesser jobs” I don’t think it’s your place to decide what is a greater or lesser job for a certain person. Pilarz left for personal reasons but has now found a place that works out better for him. Buzz left for the competition in the ACC. Who wouldn’t want to coach against UNC, Duke, and Syracuse? Good for him.

    Finally, “Why are my friends at Boston College eating salmon for dinner and I am nibbling on fried beef?” Well, you’re eating at the wrong place. I had great tilapia at Cobeen yesterday.

  4. NatCat on April 10th, 2014 11:08 am

    Someone verbalized what I’ve been thinking.

  5. MUlastroweagle on April 12th, 2014 5:49 pm

    so much for marquette being a “hate free community”…i think this article is a great argument

  6. ConcernedMUAlumnus on May 2nd, 2014 5:02 pm

    Slap me across the face and call me sally. This was a bunch of nothing based off nothing.

  7. TechGrrl1972 on May 6th, 2014 12:32 pm

    1972 grad here: lived through the McGuire years. Have stayed involved in MU ever since. I need to say: Have no idea why Buzz really left. But I think Fr. Pilarz made a choice of family over his own career, and as a person who cared for aging parents until their passing, I applaud him for that. I did the long-distance caregiving thing for years, and it sucked. Not to sound too old-fogie-ish, but in your 20’s, you may feel that not only are you immortal, but so are your parents. 40 years on, not so much.

    WRT men’s basketball being over-emphasized. It is the unfortunate truth that without the men’s basketball program, the rest of the sports have no funding. Period. Yes, Marquette spends a lot, but the return on investment is there, which is the only thing that matters. You want to talk about basketball? How about the insanity that is college football these days? Destroying conferences and long-time rivalries for the sake of TV money. And it is estimated that only about 25 programs actually make money. The rest are resource sinks for their institutions.

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