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


Nick Biggi

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.