To the editor:
The editorial titled "Fire M. Dianne Murphy" describes a partial solution for Columbia's woeful athletic performance. But the solution proposed—for President Bollinger to bring in a new athletic director—does not address the real problem.
Columbia Football has had a dismal history for the last 76 years. There have been nine winning seasons since 1937, many years with between zero and two wins, and no winning seasons since 1996. During that period, we have had many coaches and a variety of athletic directors. With each change has come hope, which is then replaced by disappointment and eventual frustration.
This awful record speaks to fundamental problems with the football program, problems that the University has never, in three quarters of a century, identified and/or articulated. And to a greater or lesser extent, these same problems carry over to many of our other teams.
Because we have never identified the underlying problems, each time we have hired a new AD or coach all we have done is put a new face in the same old place. Each time we change, we hope that we have found a solution to our athletic problems, when we don't even understand what the underlying problems are.
It is time for this cycle of futility to end! While I totally agree with your conclusion that for a variety of reasons Murphy must go, I believe that before we repeat history by simply hiring a replacement AD, we should retain a competent, impartial outside consultant that is experienced in working with athletic programs. This consultant should examine all of our programs and interview both past and current athletes, coaches, AD's, faculty, and administration, as well as non-athlete students and alumni, to learn first hand why our programs suck.
If we get the right consultants and they do an excellent job, perhaps they can identify those problems that clearly go far beyond the present AD and coaches. Once we have that information, perhaps we can solve these problems with a comprehensive plan that will hopefully include a total reorganization of the athletic department. But have no illusions that the cures will be simple or inexpensive. And most importantly if they are to be successful, they will require that the entire Columbia community coalesce in support. Only then can the Lion once more Roar!
Ed Botwinick '56 CC, '58 SEAS
Football Alumnus, Trustee Emeritus
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