Letters

letters | cheers (mostly) for UMass football

Take a cue from schools of the South — the big time is worth it

UMass’ Shadrach Abokwah scores a touchdown during an NCAA game in Foxborough in October.
Associated press/The Republican/J. Anthony Roberts
UMass’ Shadrach Abokwah scores a touchdown during an NCAA game in Foxborough in October.

The braying naysayers of your Commonwealth have zero vision of what big-time football can do for Massachusetts and its flagship institution (“UMass should shrink or scrap football,” Editorial, Jan. 11). What you need are more visionaries, especially among the vast UMass alumni base.

You might wonder why my state’s flagship, the University of Georgia, and our neighboring state of South Carolina’s land grant institution, Clemson, have consistently ranked well ahead of UMass in the US News and World Report rankings when both Deep South states’ problems in education are so well documented. The answer: We know the benefits in alumni pride leading to faculty endowments, academic scholarships, and new buildings donated by alumni who tailgate with each other on football Saturdays or maintain a close interest from afar.

We also know how economic benefits flow to retailers, restaurateurs, hotel owners, and many other entrepreneurial businesses thanks to the excitement generated by even minimal success. Remember the John Calipari era in UMass basketball?

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It was a disgrace that your flagship took so long to join its well-populated peers, and it would be to its everlasting discredit to pull the plug right now.

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One more gripe: You question why UMass is “investing in a cultural edifice” — the very sport of football — “that is showing the first signs of crumbling.” It’s unlikely that the writer of such specious nonsense ever cared for the sport to begin with or understands anything about its bountiful benefits.

Jim Connah

Sandy Springs, Ga.