As Nathan Crabbe in The Gainesville Sun newspaper has noted, the University of Florida Athletic Association does not detract from UF. Unfortunately, not everyone knows this, as the misinformed article that Crabbe is responding to shows.
The UF Athletic Association is an amazing group that directly supports the core teaching, research and scholarship, and service mission of the University of Florida.
The UF Athletic Association directly supports UF financially. As noted in an article by Crabbe from June 2011, the UF Athletic Association contributed $6 million to UF. In fact, the UF Athletic Association has donated over $61 million to UF since 1990 (page 27 shows $55,118,563 contributed from 1990-2010 and another $6 million in 2011 brings the total to over $61 million).
Most importantly, at least to me as an academic and a faculty member at UF, the UF Athletic Association directly supports UF’s core mission by supporting great sports – which includes supporting student athletes, supporting the academic mission, supporting the Gainesville community, and supporting the greater community as is appropriate with UF being a public, land-grant institution. Not only does the UF Athletic Association do great work, but they get it. They clearly show their understanding and support of UF’s mission and goals. They work to support the academic mission of UF and to make things possible to show their support and mission alignment, supporting milestones like donating a rare book to the Libraries to mark the milestone of the 4 millionth volume. The rare book, Urania Propitia, has now been digitized and is online in the UF Digital Collections for free, full public access thereby extending the support and mission alignment even further.
The value and benefits that come directly from college sports to academia through the excellent work done at UF is clear. While I understand that this may not always be the case, I find it critical to recognize the incredibly powerful and incredibly positive situation at the University of Florida for what it means to UF as an institution and for what it means to public scholarship and academia as a whole. I am happy and proud to be part UF knowing that UF is an institution where the core academic mission is supported and enriched by our Athletic Association.
Thanks go to the UF Athletic Association for all that they do!