Sports Commentary: "Harker and Sports: A Terrible Match"

UD Vs Towson_15380752037_l
Sara Pfefer/THE REVIEW
University of Delaware President Patrick T. Harker talks on the sideline of this season’s game against Towson.


If you haven’t read the front page of The Review yet, university President Patrick T. Harker has announced he will be stepping down effective July 1 in order to lead the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. As a sports fan here at Delaware, I cannot be happier about this news.

Harker, in my opinion, has been the downfall of the university’s football program. He has taken the fun out of Saturdays and the fans have voted with their feet. By taking away the ability for fans to drink responsibly as they tailgate, and by making parking more difficult and expensive for them, no one shows up to the games.

A long time ago, when I was very young, my alum father and his college buddies would go see games at Delaware Stadium. We’d tailgate where the UDairy Creamery is, we’d enjoy ourselves and then go see the game with other cheering fans. The last time I walked through a tailgate at a game, it was sad. Yes, people were enjoying themselves, but it just didn’t have the same feel as what I remember about it.

In addition, his idea to move into Division 1-A football is misguided to say the least. Yes, the University of Connecticut had one good season when it moved up, but where have the Huskies been since? As former head coach and Delaware football legend Tubby Raymond once said, “Delaware is a big fish in a small pond,” and if the Blue Hens moved up from Division 1-AA to Division 1-A football, we would be fighting for survival.

We all have seen the score from the Pittsburgh game, 62-0 in favor of the Panthers. Now imagine that kind of score for 12 straight weeks. Do you think we’ll get top recruits after that? Do you really want to see games like this? I think not.

But it isn’t just the varsity and club athletics programs that Harker has put his hands on and impacted, it is also the intramural athletics programs he has affected, as well as a sporting life in general here on campus. By taking away the Kent tennis courts along with the basketball courts and hockey rink at the end of the 2012-13 school year, there are now just three tennis courts for general student use on the campus proper.

Whatever happened to a “well-rounded education,” where students could excel in the classroom and on the playing fields? Harker obviously never took that into account when he planned his new freshman dorms and dining hall. I once stood up in a faculty senate meeting and questioned where he was going to put the new tennis courts he said he’d be building. Two years later, I still don’t have an answer.

So if you are wondering what kind of president the college needs now, think about one who values athletics as much as he values revenue from the student body. That’s what I’d like to see.

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