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Priorities: College football

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia University announced plans to spend $6 million for a "team room" auditorium to help inspire a football team plagued by a losing season. The Mountaineer Athletic Club has already raised $2 million for it.

Mickey Furfari, a longtime sports columnist who turned 90 in 2013 and who has spent most of his career covering the Mountaineers, questions the wisdom of that plan.

"To some people," Furfari wrote, "this latest scheduled football project seems laughable were it not so serious -- and costly. Does anyone really feel updating the facilities will turn around West Virginia's football program to where [Athletic Director Oliver] Luck's dream of a national football championship becomes a reality?"

WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen, highly successful as offensive coordinator at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, has been less successful since he came to WVU. He apparently believes the new team room will help his players succeed.

"Shouldn't personality, recruiting, coaching and, of course, winning, be greater factors priority-wise than facilities?" Furfari asks.

To that list we would add academics, and possibly some cost-consciousness.

The primary purpose of a university is to educate students -- including football players. Universities should spend more effort looking out for their neediest students.

As costs for tuition, books and living expenses rise -- much faster than inflation rates -- students pay more and take on more debt. Many students run up debts so burdensome they cannot pay them back in 20 years.

College football generates a lot of money, especially from television revenue. But perhaps universities and private donors should spend more time thinking about where $6 million could be better applied than on more lavish athletic facilities and Holgorsen's $2.5 million salary.


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