Athletics directors can't help but dream of bigger, better stadiums. So it comes as little surprise that the University of Kentucky's Mitch Barnhart is talking up a $150 million-plus face-lift of Commonwealth Stadium.
Under current economic conditions, though, the prospect of UK's entertainment side (i.e. sports) competing for public or private money with the educational/research/service side is offensive and should be nipped in the bud.
Yes, we understand that UK competes in a tough conference where gridiron opulence is the norm.
But UK's academic programs also face tough competition.
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The deans of UK's law and business schools, as well its lead researchers, could tell their own stories of top recruits who went to programs with better facilities.
Kentucky's young people face the toughest competition of all, especially in the economy and job market they'll be entering.
They need an affordable education from teachers who are on the cutting edge of their professions. That should be UK's top funding priority, whether we're talking about money from the state's General Fund or private donors.
Sadly, and this is part of why we're a poor state, the needs of athletics have always resonated louder than those of education.
The donor pools to UK sports and academics overlap. UK's next president, who will take over next year, shouldn't "inherit" a capital campaign, or even the hint of a capital campaign, for renovating the football stadium.
The new president deserves the chance to set fund-raising goals aimed at moving the university up the ranks of educational institutions.
The idea that Kentucky's financially strapped state government could divert tax dollars into a sports stadium is ridiculous, as Barnhart acknowledged.
That would leave only football ticket-buyers to pay off Commonwealth renovations, which, after recent season-ticket price increases, is probably more than the market would or should be asked to bear.