Matt Towery

In fact, the allegations opened the door for Adams to argue that the recent attacks on him have been thinly veiled efforts to put more importance on athletics than on academics and have threatened to tarnish the university's ascendant reputation for scholastic achievement.

What a joke. Aren't we constantly being told these semi-pro athletic teams masquerading as intercollegiate squads are important to academic fund raising, and in attracting the brightest and most accomplished students to college campuses by raising the public profile of the schools? You can't have it both ways. Let's either have the guts to admit that big-time college football and basketball are really just farm teams for the pros and have almost nothing to do with higher education, or at least concede that athletics and academics at most big schools are joined at the hip.

The problem reaches deeper than a hardly known Georgia university president or the complaint that not supporting him against an athletics director will somehow amount to a figurative book-burning. At issue is a broader question about where our society is heading in its attitude toward seniors. We have an army of healthy, vital and productive older Americans. Many of them are capable of being productive well into their 70s and beyond, and Dooley is a perfect illustration. He has been a critical difference in helping UGA reach it ambitious overall fund-raising efforts this year.

Have we forgotten that septuagenarian Ronald Reagan gave us the most successful American presidency of the last generation? Or that former president Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Prize as a senior?

If the Adams train -- backed by the Georgia Board of Regents and the governor -- is allowed to keep chugging down the track, then Dooley, a two-time NCAA National Coach of the Year, will be cast aside like some irrelevant has-been.

Our nation seems hell-bent on casting aside established talent for the sake of new things that are supposed to automatically constitute "progress" merely by their newness. An actress gets older, don't give her a part. An ex-politician ages, let him sell Viagra, but don't seek his professional counsel. And if one of the most successful names in the history of college sports hits his early 70s, send him packing, even though countless supporters want him to stay.

All this makes for a commentary not only on one university president, some silly state board or even a poor governor new to his job. Rather, it's a comment about America. Look out, aging baby boomers -- this may well happen to you.


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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