Larry Fedora's firing will be the latest in a long narrative arc of humiliation for UNC's beleaguered football program. While I have issues with Fedora's linkage of football to American greatness, I do not have much of a personal issue with the coach. He simply lost too many games for UNC to be taken seriously as a national football program. Not all programs can be the women's soccer program, or the men's basketball program.
I do, however, have a personal problem with those who have chosen to fire the man. Specifically, I have a problem with the $12 million dollars it will take to buy out his contract. If a dime of this money comes from student fees, tuition or state appropriations, I think board members, athletic director Bubba Cunningham and Chancellor Carol Folt should follow Fedora right off the campus.
Fedora is entitled to what he negotiated in his contract. Again, my issue is not with him. UNC was collectively stupid enough to sign a five-year contract that they now cannot stomach. I never thought I would recommend to anyone taking a cue from Donald Trump, but perhaps our public university should learn the Art of the Deal.
The mission of the University is the production and dissemination of knowledge for the betterment of North Carolina and the world. I will grant that athletics provide an important ideological linkage with our state's citizens, but to volunteer $12 million to a coach to not work is an insult to most of UNC and the state's workforce, and UNC's overall mission. The Board, and the state its members (for now) represent, should have to choke for five years on the consequences of a bad choice and learn from it. It may be a hard pill to swallow. The best medicine often is.
If alumni and donors are so forlorn that $12 million seems an acceptable cost in trying to get UNC national football recognition, with all the applications, enrollment and media money that entails, they are free to make that argument to us and choose to pony up the cash. However, I would ask them to consider what they are spending their money on. Is UNC really all about sports? How about raising $12 million for endowed chairs, graduate fellowships, new dorms, more mental health services? My Lord, how about just buying some toys and food for poor kids over the holidays?