Am I the only one who finds that the University of Alabama canceling classes January 6-8, thus postponing the start of its spring semester so its students and faculty can attend the BCS National Championship game in Pasadena, Calif., ironic?
I’m all for giving Crimson Tide fans calendar flexibility to travel to see their team take on the University of Texas for the right to call themselves title holders, but from a public relations standpoint, the decision flies right in the face of one of the reasons the Bowl Championship Series hierarchy says a college football playoff is not practical.
BCS executive director, Bill Hancock, recently said that a playoff schedule would make it difficult for some schools to schedule academic finals.
So, the administration at Alabama showed its colors when it decided not to turn on the classroom lights when they were scheduled in January. Ok; I’m sure the move wasn’tthat cut-and-dry, but I’ve got to wonder what NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) presidents thought when they learned of UA’s plans. Why haven’t we heard their thoughts?
University of Alabama spokesperson Cathy Andreen told the Tuscaloosa News that the canceled classes would not be made up.
There are a couple of schools of thought with this action. One is, we know the importance of football at FBS schools so Alabama is at least being honest with its stance by saying it expected a drop in attendance, at least on the day of the game, so it went ahead and cancelled classes. The other message is one that contradicts what the NCAA has long worked to communicate – that academics take precedent over athletics in every circumstance.
As a PR professional, I can’t say I would have chosen to cancel classes if I was a college president who works daily to uphold the integrity of the NCAA’s academic-athletic message.
What would you have done?