Opinion | Letters to the Editor

Letter to the editor: President Bollinger on athletics

  • gameday | (L-R) Chair of the board of trustees Bill Campbell, CC ’62, University President Lee Bollinger, and Robert Kraft, CC ’60, attend a football game.

To the editor:

It is encouraging to see the level of interest in Columbia athletics' success and to know that there are students who want to see Columbia be as successful in Ivy League athletics as we are in everything we do. That has not always been the case, and we are still overcoming decades characterized by a different set of expectations. And while the Spectator board serves a valuable function in raising challenging questions for us as a University community to consider, Athletics has an impressive overall record compiled by our student-athletes and coaches under Athletic Director M. Dianne Murphy's leadership that deserves to be highlighted in response to Monday's editorial.

Just in recent days, Spectator has reported several noteworthy Columbia accomplishments, including a national tennis championship in men's doubles, the second recent Ivy championship for the nationally ranked men's cross-country team, a women's swimming team that is off to a historic 3-0 start, and a gold medal in the Junior World Cup for fencing.

Indeed, in recent years, Columbia teams and athletes have had greater competitive success than at any time in several decades. The amount of our First-team All-Ivy selections, individual championships, and top three finishing teams have all spiked up sharply in the past five years. The number of individual championships has more than doubled in the past eight years, to 118 individual championships, giving Columbia the fourth most individual Ivy championships. And last year, 12 of our 31 athletic teams placed in the top three of the Ivy standings, above the statistical average for an eight-team league.

Understandably, in this context, our football season does not showcase our team's full potential. Frustration is felt most acutely by the hardworking players and coaches who take pride in their efforts and are determined to improve their performance. I am confident that Pete Mangurian is a coach whose leadership and values will deliver that improvement in the years ahead.  Also understandable is the frustration with the state of Dodge Fitness Center. University Facilities has been talking with the athletic department for the last several months to determine the overall scope and cost of the project, a necessary first step to any major renovation.

In short, over the decade since I appointed Dianne Murphy, we have made enormous progress in the athletic department, and I am committed to continuing on this consistently upward trajectory. I am proud of our student athletes, and their continued success depends on the ever-growing support from all of us.

Lee C. Bollinger, Law '71
University President

Comments

Plain text

  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Your username will not be displayed if checked
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
anon posted on

dayum, prezbo. aight.

+1
+40
-1
Anonymous posted on

go to Princeton! (that's a euphemistic way of saying something even dirtier)

+1
+3
-1
Anonymous posted on

It's still true the Dr. Murphy is a horrible person and a tyrant that should be fired regardless of her records.

+1
+28
-1
Anonymous posted on

but at least were not resorting to slander and name-calling

+1
+16
-1
Mike posted on

It's cool though - free speech and all.

+1
-3
-1
Anonymous posted on

Hold up: PrezBo's first (and, it appears, only) letter to Spec is to defend Athletics?

Huh.

+1
+99
-1
Anonymous posted on

Campbell must be on his ass

+1
+58
-1
Grateful Student-Athlete posted on

Thank you PrezBo for showing the support that is sorely lacking from the student body

+1
-20
-1
cc 15 posted on

lol

+1
+9
-1
bam margera posted on

ha

+1
-2
-1
Prezbo just went full retard. posted on

You never go full retard.

+1
+6
-1
CC '11 posted on

Why doesn't the University doesn't do a better job of promoting those sports that we are good at? While I was there, all I ever heard from the athletics marketing department was football this and basketball that, despite the fact that Columbia is not and has never really been good at those sports, and the student body (myself included) was not one that is particularly mainstream in its interests.

Where is the big push to get students and/or alums to come out to those more niche sports where we really do excel? I would have gladly gone to watch fencing, swimming, or tennis. But my overall feeling was the Athletics department was trying to drum up interest in sports its student body largely wasn't interested in for... alumni donations? A general need to keep up with the Jones? I never could figure out why.

So I wrote them off and stopped listening.

+1
+34
-1
I completely agree posted on

It is a misconception that alums donate more for big name sports like football or basketball. They do not.

+1
+5
-1
Anonymous posted on

Because football and basketball are, by far, the most entertaining spectator sports, aside from NASCAR and the XGames, neither of which Columbia competes in. Fencing, swimming, and tennis are boring.

+1
-17
-1
Anonymous posted on

I'm all for supporting athletics, but please do not grant Murphy with the success of tennis and cross-country. Both coaches were here before her, and their success is not from anything Dr. Murphy has done. Also, she has struck out on now 2 football coaches, Joe Jones with basketball, women's basketball coaches, as well as various others. I think being competitive WITHIN THE IVY LEAGUE is the most important thing to look at. Winning Ivy league seasons under Murphy:
Football: 0
Basketball: 0
Mens Soccer: 1
Baseball: 4
Womens Lax: 0
Womens Basketball: 0
Womens Soccer: 2
Field Hockey: 2

How are these the signs of success?

+1
+44
-1
Harold Hill posted on

I like the band better than the football team.

+1
+35
-1
Anonymous posted on

President Bollinger either doesn't realize or doesn't care about Columbia's branding in athletics. While winning in the minor sports is great, the two sports that the public at large hears about are football and basketball. In football, Columbia has been a complete laughingtock this year. If Bollinger had the least bit of knowledge about football and attended the games, he would have seen that the team was completely unprepared and uncompetitive in every game. If Mangurian is not fired, the team will lose every game again next year. If President Bollinger has confidence in Coach Mangurian, let him state that he himself will resign if the team does not win at least half their games next year, which is not a high barrier for a third year coach. Obviously, athletics are not the primary goal of the university, but Bollinger claimed when he took the job as president that the culture of losing was going to change. We certainly haven't seen that with our football team. This team was less competitive than those during the losing streak and are at or near the bottom of the entire FCS in every offensive and defensive statistic.

+1
+4
-1
Alum posted on

I am very impressed that President Bollinger has addressed this issue in Spectator. I think a slow but steady change is occurring in the undergraduate students at Columbia. The undergrads want a more traditional college experience. Not everyone, but a growing number. They seek a more collegiate community and of course competitive football and basketball teams go along with that. I think this is very good for Columbia. If Columbia can improve the undergraduate experience then we will have a more dedicated and supportive alumni network. I think President Bollinger is showing in his letter that he is very aware of this change in our undergraduates.

+1
-4
-1
Anonymous posted on

The CEO has spoken. Both the A.D. and the Football Coach will be back in 2014.

+1
-5
-1
Anonymous posted on

I don't think so. Not with this much anger in the student and alumni community.

They have to go and they should do the right thing and resign.

+1
+8
-1
Anonymous posted on

Now go to your boss to tell her that you are very aware of this change in your organization, and then continue to sit on your butt. See what she says.

+1
-6
-1
Jake posted on

It would be nice if President Bollinger had the decency to use facts instead of falsehoods in his letter. The truth is, Athletics has declined in success over the last five years, not improved.

I assume he isn't aware of the truth either way, but this discussion is not over.

Unless you like 0-10 teams, no Columbia athlete, student or alum should allow this current athletics regime to remain in place.

Jake Novak

+1
+16
-1
Jake posted on

President Bollinger has just told the students and alumni who care about athletics to shut up and calm down. He's patronized us with the "encouraging to see the level of interest" line. He's also just made a public bet that this short little missive will make the controversy go away over the woefully undeniable poor performance of Mangurian and Murphy. He's going to lose that bet. He's actually just made a very public fool out of himself by supporting abject failure in so public a way.

+1
+11
-1
classic bollinger posted on

this strategy of "shut up and calm down" has already apparently worked with the faculty in all of Columbia's schools, so why shouldn't it work in this case?

+1
+8
-1
Rich Forzani '66 C posted on

One must appreciate the incredible undercurrents at play among the student and alumni communities that would induce this response from President Bollinger. There is a groundswell of historic proportions supporting the recent Spectator editorial, and the president knows this; hence his reply.

His statistics in defense of the AD are cherrypicked. Her achievements in any of the sports that count (i.e. team sports) are atrocious. One cannot look at individual sports because these athletes come here already trained and expert. They come to continue their individual athletic paths. A number of them still utilize their previous coaches.We must look at the sports traditionally identified with the college experience; namely team sports. This is where Columbia, and Ms Murphy, have failed and failed terribly.

This is not a paen to football, although that is truly a signature sport. It includes all the sports that induce fan and student support, cheering, excitement, etc. This goes to alumni participation as well. Even those not interested should acknowledge the fact that past athletes who stay engaged with Columbia are among its most generous benefactors. We have 31 teams. President Bollinger conveniently ignores the fact that of these, we have won 1.6 titles per year over the past 5 years. Absolutely horrid. NOT an improvement. This is doublespeak and we all know it.

I laud the Spectator editorial, and pray you will not let this pass.

+1
+9
-1
Anonymous posted on

"Sports that count"? What kind of alum are you that you can't support all of our student athletes? I find that horrifically shameful.

+1
+7
-1
Anonymous posted on

Rich, your a pompous ass. Sports that count? They all count and you just alienated those student athletes that dedicate so much of their time to their crafts for this university. JERK

+1
+2
-1
Rich Forzani 66C posted on

Pompous ass?? I think not. Perhaps a realist, unlike others.
When was the last time you attended an archery match, my friend? Or a fencing match. Tennis, anyone?
You and your cohort above either ignorantly or deliberately misread my comments. I also believe you probably aren't an athlete at all.
"sports that count" is meant, in the context used, as those which typically define an institution's athletic accomplishment. Most of us know what those are. The other sports, again in context, are admirable but at the same time iconoclastic. Their involvement is its own reward.

So I don't think I alienated anyone but you two, and that doesn't cause me any problem.

+1
+6
-1
Joe posted on

"You and your cohort above either ignorantly or deliberately misread my comments"

See, when you write things like that it reveals the fact that you really are a pompous ass.

+1
-4
-1
Mark posted on

Joe

To me, he sounds like he paid a lot more attention in Expository Writing than you did. In fact, you actually come across a little jealous. Do you always name-call when someone gets your goat?

+1
+2
-1
CC '14 posted on

Wonder why President Bollinger conveniently did not address these two paragraphs from the Spec editorial, which I thought were the most important arguments made...:

"The attitude of the athletic department is set at the top, and that tone has been toxic during Murphy’s tenure. Since her arrival, she and her staff have clashed with the rest of the University: They tried to prohibit tailgating and alcohol at Baker Field during Murphy’s first year, hindered club sports teams trying to find practice space, attempted to ban the marching band from the final football game of the 2011 season, and have persistently strained relationships with campus media that attempt to cover teams and spread community interest.

Under Murphy’s direction, sports teams have been involved in controversial incidents with no public repercussions. During the last year alone, the field hockey team was involved in a hazing scandal, while the football team came under fire in the spring for persistent use of racist and homophobic language against fellow students on Twitter. No public consequences were announced for the teams involved, and Murphy’s department has worked to sweep the issues under the rug. Athletics is largely about perception and image, and under Murphy, the reputation of the athletic department has plummeted."

+1
+25
-1
Football alum CC 2003 posted on

Sadly enough I don't have the accolades or the bankroll to make a difference. I will tell you this I live in miami now and we are one disgruntled player or parent away from being in the national news every day.

+1
+5
-1
Anonymous posted on

Well said. It is not just the record- we are losing by historic margins and there does not seem to be any improvement from week to week. All sports count and all the athletes deserve our support but right or wrong this type of performance with the football team brings down the entire department. I have no problem at all with the AD , except that she fired in BOB Shoop in 2005 saying the results are unacceptable and look where we are eight years later! Let's hope for a win Saturday for the players and their parents. Roar LION ROAR!

+1
+4
-1
Alum CC '60 posted on

"In short, over the decade since I appointed Dianne Murphy, we have made enormous progress in the athletic department, and I am committed to continuing on this consistently upward trajectory." LCB is either delusional or seriously out of touch (or maybe both) by knowingly failing acknowledge the abysmal performance of the football program during the tenure of MDM & PM.

+1
+10
-1
Football alum CC 2003 posted on

What is going on is abhorrent and tragic.

+1
+6
-1
Alum CC '60 posted on

"In short, over the decade since I appointed Dianne Murphy, we have made enormous progress in the athletic department, and I am committed to continuing on this consistently upward trajectory." LCB is either delusional or seriously out of touch (or maybe both) by knowingly failing to acknowledge the abysmal performance of the football program during the tenure of MDM & PM.

+1
-13
-1
Anonymous posted on

Jake and his mighty hoard of 3000 posters(or is it 300, erh, 30 or erh, 3 self appointed cranks) will not let this stand. Guy runs a football blog and he knows almost nothing about football.

+1
+4
-1
Football alum CC 2003 posted on

Did you play a sport at this school? Do you have any idea what it is like or are you just spewing nonsense? No kid in their right mind would sign up for this. Student athletes at this school deserve nothing but the best and excuse us that care.

+1
-4
-1
Anonymous posted on

Mr Boll. It's amazing that you have lowered yourself to put forward an editorial in the spectator to comment on athletics. A part of the college experience that you have little or no interest in. Coming from Michigan the expectation was that you understood the importance of athletics in student and alumni relations. It's obvious I/we were wrong. You have NO CLUE...you are operating with blinders on. I hope CU alumni see through your bull and act with there wallets and refrain from giving until you resign. You add "Law 71" like you are Columbian. You are not. You obviously didn't excell enough in high school to get into Columbia College and yes you are not a Ivy Leaguer. Take your paid for law degree and go back to the Midwest and send us back a real Renaissance Man who understand the true meaning of the core curriculum. Can you swim? Well if you had a clue you would realize that many years ago the core curriculum was established with making students truly well rounded which includes a very important requirement...yes an athletic requirement. The swim test. Yes Boll. Athletics is an important part of what CU should be all about.

+1
-19
-1
Anonymous posted on

"You obviously didn't excell enough in high school to get into Columbia College and yes you are not a Ivy Leaguer. Take your paid for law degree and go back to the Midwest and send us back a real Renaissance Man who understand the true meaning of the core curriculum."

....you're a snobbish jerk.

+1
+11
-1
Anonymous posted on

welcome Lee to the convo

+1
+3
-1
Anonymous posted on

ahahaha Glad your angry. Now you know how the Athletic Alumni feel u moron.

+1
-12
-1
Anonymous posted on

The pressure is on Lee...this ain't Michigan. No Change No $$

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

It sickens me that Bollinger is using the successes of sports like cross-country to defend M. Diane. As an alum of Columbia's cross-country and track teams, I know full well how little Dr. Murphy had to do with any successes it had. Cross country and other small/less 'main-stream' sports struggle constantly to get support or attention from an administration that just doesn't care about them. They receive far less support, publicity, and gear than the football team, despite continuously outperforming it by leaps and bounds.
I remember a varsity-C during which M. Diane demanded that every athlete attend baseball's ivy league championship game that weekend. Track and field's ivy league championships were on the same day, but it didn't get so much as a 'good luck' from her. When one of the team's athletes met with Dr. Murphy to talk about the lack of support the team was noticing, she replied that only champions get attention. She said that to get support, you have to WIN, and asked the athlete if she/he had ever even come close to winning a championship. That athlete had been on an Ivy League Championship team, had won 4 individual ivy league titles, and was the first ivy-league student in her event to ever become an NCAA All-American (ever...in all of history). I wonder how many football players Dr. Murphy knows by name......
She is distant, disconnected, and delusional. The only things that she has ever invested time/money in have been failures. President Bollinger, I'm disappointed in your hastiness to defend an athletics administration that you clearly do not know enough about.

+1
+59
-1
Anonymous posted on

this post is perfection. This is what President Bollinger needs to read.

+1
+14
-1
Anonymous posted on

"It sickens me that Bollinger is using the successes of sports like cross-country to defend M. Diane. As an alum of Columbia's cross-country and track teams, I know full well how little Dr. Murphy had to do with any successes it had."

Unfortunately, this sentiment can be used on the opposite side and assert that Dr. Murphy has nothing to do with the failures of the Football and Basketball teams.

I am frustrated like most about the appalling records of the football team but I think it comes down to recruiting and coaching.

+1
-3
-1
Anonymous posted on

I don't think the reverse argument holds for a couple of reasons: (1) the cross-country program has a coach who has been around for a long time and was not hired by Murphy - since she's made all the hiring decisions related to football and basketball, she does bear some responsibility for those decisions; (2) football and basketball get the most resources thrown at them so I think it's only fair to ask what kind of return on investment Columbia has gotten. If it all comes down to recruiting and coaching as you say, who's picking the people who are doing the recruiting and coaching?

+1
+3
-1
Anonymous posted on

President Bollinger, I understand the need to defend Diane Murphy’s tenure at Columbia. You appointed her and you can fire her. It’s time to fire her, since she is so pompous that she won’t fall on her own sword. Mediocrity should not be rewarded. At Columbia we were taught to think, analyze, and pursue knowledge. Diane Murphy has seriously stood in the way of these ideals, by shutting off free expression, ( the band ) ignoring awful truths as past incidents are brushed aside. In a school where a free exchange of ideas are commonplace we have two sets of rules, one for students, one for student athletes.
When was the last time the football team won a championship (1966?) and the basketball team ( 1968) I guess being mediocre is acceptable. Most alumni I know are very disappointed in their major teams. Every year, hope springs eternal, but the reality quickly sinks in, that we suck!
I wanted to stay away from the personal, but she is humorless, dictatorial , and petty from my meetings with her. She is all knowing, but having no personal relationship with Columbia as it’s students an alumni! It’s time to say goodbye…..

+1
+16
-1
cc 15 posted on

here's an idea: maybe if you're prezbo and you need to write this letter, it's obviously bullshit

+1
+2
-1
A Concerned New Yorker posted on

No disrespect to tennis, swimming and fencing athletes but the issues are a badly managed football program led by a tyrant head coach. His primary policies have been ostracizing upperclassmen and demonstrating his authority over the well-being of the student athletes. Pete Mangurian has been extraordinarily poor in game planning, coaching methods and people skills. He has REGRESSED the program to the very lowest of levels, not brought it forward as claimed. Mr. Bollinger clearly has his head in the sand and hoping this issue blows over. It won't. Not until Pete Mangurian is ejected from campus.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

ATTENTION OVER HERE FOLKS. THAT IS THE KIND OF LETTER AND THE KIND OF ATTITUDE THAT COLUMBIA LAWYERS SEND TO ASSAULT VICITMS ON CAMPUS. Yes yes we hear you but but but but but, and after all we are doing a good job.

LET'S HAVE A SHOW OF HANDS. SHALL WE FIRE BOLLINGER? SHALL WE FIRE HIM RIGHT NOW?

+1
-13
-1
Marm posted on

Sheesh...I can't believe the level of illiterary shown here. Oy. I think the bulk of you should study more and complain less.

+1
-10
-1
Puzzled Alum posted on

"illiterary"?

+1
0
-1
sageman posted on

I would advise any football player who is recruited to Columbia to not even consider coming here. The program is "doomed" to the depths of failure so long as Mangurian is coach.

+1
-7
-1
Anonymous posted on

Here are 2 rather simple, objective questions: (1) How many Ivy titles have coaches hired by Dr. M. Dianne won? (At a minimum, this would eliminate x-country, tennis and not sure what other sports). (2) How do the records of football and basketball compare to those under her predecessors?

+1
+2
-1
Jake posted on

I can't tell you how embarrassed I am for President Bollinger. It's painfully obvious this "statement" was written for him by Dianne Murphy's staff. That's bad enough, but the fact that he didn't even bother to do a cursory fact check of the statement is disturbing. What else does Mr. Bollinger sign and say without checking the facts?

Jake Novak

+1
+6
-1
Anonymous posted on

The students, players, staff, and the massive Columbia alumni network are severely disappointed in Mangurian and Murphy performance. They must go.

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

Congrats to the prez. The underlying prejudice against gay administrators is apparent in these comments. Dianne will survive this onslaught and continue moving us in the right direction. Take that, haters!

+1
-26
-1
Anonymous posted on

So easy to blame this on "prejudice against gay administrators". Do you really think that if a non-gay person was in charge this discussion would not be happening? (I didn't even know she was gay and I think it is completely irrelevant, whether or not she is, I don't care). Coach Mangurian and PrezBo aren't gay and people are still calling on them to resign (rightly or wrongly). Secondly, where do you see this bias in these comments and in the original piece? Gay or not, we should still be able to have this discussion, don't you think?

+1
+5
-1
Anonymous posted on

You obviously are not sagacious enough to discern the code words embedded in the article. Shocked that prejudice is alive and well in a "progressive" university.

+1
-3
-1
Rich Forzani posted on

Why do I feel as if I should compliment you on a successful baiting expedition? I reviewed this entire string and you are the ONLY individual who has raised the LGBT flag (oops, did I say "flag"? I apologize) In fact, the closest thing I saw was a reference to "prezbo", which in my ignorance I assumed to mean pres Bollinger. But I now see I was wrong, and this must have been one of the many code words embedded in all these posts.

Quite frankly, in the present era and given the present state of our athletics, I don't believe we would care if a blue-bellied baboon had control, as long as he/she/it produced the results.

But it was a terrific instigatory note you sent. Please keep it up.

+1
+2
-1
Anonymous posted on

Rich,
"Successful baiting expedition"? On the contrary; your response seems to be from a master baiter.

Your splenetic right-wing diatribe doesn't address the hateful slurs toward Dr. Murphy I've heard at my Lions' games. The fact that others haven't voiced similar concerns is irrelevant.

+1
-2
-1
Rich F posted on

Thanks for confirming our opinion of you.

PS, I'm a confirmed anarchist. Never liked right wingers, but I do intend to drink enough to have splenetic issues someday. And I don't see any diatribe in my writings here. Can you point them out? Perhaps they're on the next page???

Peace and love :-)

+1
-2
-1
Anonymous posted on

Fatuous prose and tumescent verbiage from a misogynist trivializes the discussion. You and I are unimportant. Dr. Murphy is an excellent administrator. Would you prefer Steve Bilsky, the outgoing Penn AD who ruined a great national basketball program?
Yes, there are challenges, but we have the right person for the job. I'm done sparring.

+1
-7
-1
Puzzled Alum posted on

I'm an alum and have read all these articles and comments and absolutely not noticed any anti-gay bias. Who even knew Murphy is gay, if she is?

+1
+4
-1
Jeff posted on

And you ignore Diane Murphy's and Peter Maguarian's complete disregard for the homophobic and racist tweets from the football team? Come on. Don't let your ideology blind you.

+1
-3
-1
Anonymous posted on

Rich, your a dick.

+1
-7
-1
Marm-a-duke Redux posted on

Sheesh...I can't believe the level of illiterary shown here. Oy. I think the bulk of you should study more and complain less.

+1
-1
-1
Thomas Chorba CC' 66 posted on

I see from President Bollingers letter that this is all attributable to the past students and therefore past Spectator members and alumni.

+1
-6
-1
Anonymous posted on

Can you imagine Michigan having a winless season? Or Harvard? Or Princeton? The alumni would be rioting.

+1
0
-1
Ivy Brother From Another Mother posted on

Am I crazy here, or is Bollinger talking about a 1.2% "success"? I mean, in any given sport your chance of finishing in the top 3 of an 8 team league is 3/8 or 37.5%, right? And he says 12 out of 31 teams did just that, which is 38.7%. So all of this "enormous progress" and "upward trajectory" means beating the statistical average by 1.2 percentage points?

+1
-1
-1
Jake posted on

It's two days since Spectator published this letter and I'm shocked the president's office has not yet retracted it. There are numerous outright falsehoods here that Bollinger should quickly rescind. I don't get it. How stupid does Bollinger thing we are? How stupid do the people in the athletic dept. who prepared this littany of falsehoods for Bollinger to sign think Bollinger is?

Jake Novak

+1
0
-1