Saturday, October 15, 2005

It's not confusing at all.

The Nebraska athletic department partnered with "Big Red Report" to produce a special edition on the facilities upgrade at Nebraska, and mailed it across to fans all over. I'm not sure if they sent it to ticketholders, donors, or just a general mailing list. But it looks like the start of a renewed marketing campaign to raise funds again. At last week's Texas Tech game, a commercial was shown featuring players from all Husker sports pleading for donations.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I really haven't heard anybody say that the facilities improvements aren't necessary. Personally, when the program was first announced, I was concerned that they didn't go far enough, especially when other programs continue to add onto their training facilities.

The fund-raising campaign got off to a fast start, raising $15 million in the first month, but then came crashing to a halt the night of November 29th, 2003. Since then, the program has only received a donation of $1 million from Anaheim Angels' outfielder Darin Erstad and $5 million from the Myers family of Omaha. And that's basically it after 22 months of discontent.

In today's "Voices from the Grandstand" in the Omaha paper, a fan expresses disappointment and disbelief that the campaign hasn't been more successful. In the "Big Red Report" article, Boyd Epley expresses surprise as well.

Nobody should be surprised at all with what has happened to the fund raising campaign. Deep down, everybody knows the root problem with the fund raising campaign. The kool-aid drinkers can express their outrage about the situation, but that won't change it. The wounds continue to fester and linger on.

Undoing the changes isn't feasible or practical. It isn't fair to the players or the coaches. But something needs to be done at the top levels at the University to address this situation. This problem isn't going to fix itself. Bill Callahan could win a national championship next year, and the athletic director will still be reviled.

What does the athletic director need to do? It's simple: swallow his pride. Acknowledge his detractors. Admit his mistakes. Apologize to those he has offended. Accept responsibility to "make it right". He can't undo what's been done; we're beyond that point now. But he can hold out the olive branch.

This has gone on long enough. Something has to be done.

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