In the wake of athletics scandals, general budget cuts, and a new athletic director, questions of how athletics fits into the University in general are high on the agenda these days. Yesterday there was a forum with the outgoing Athletic Director, Dick Baddour, and several other people involved in athletics, to discuss the role of athletics. (I couldn’t go because we had a faculty meeting at the same time.) In the Daily Tar Heel story about the meeting, Faculty Athletics Committee chair Steve Reznick is quoted as saying:
Athletics is part of our body. You can’t just remove the pancreas.
Now, the corporeal metaphor is interesting enough on its own, but the choice of pancreas is really creative. It does turn out that pancreatectomy has a very poor prognosis, probably because the pancreas’s contribution to the body is made up of many different roles. Here’s my imagination of the upcoming game next Friday. I can hear Jones Angell now, the new voice of the Heels, aboard the USS Carl Vinson: 26 seconds to go in the second half, Carolina behind 78-75, Marshall with the ball, President Obama on his feet but fearing the worst. Angell has the call:
Marshall gets the inbound pass and crosses the timeline. Marshall takes it inside, fakes the dish to Zeller, then kicks it back out to Henson for the three at the buzzer. The game goes into overtime, all thanks to a sensational play by Kendall Marshall. That kid is all pancreas!
And so, dear readers: if your university is a body, what organ is athletics?