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Holtz not the only problem with football program

The decision to fire football coach Skip Holtz announced Sunday, has left many USF students and fans saying: “Well, it’s about time” – plus or minus a few expletives.
Athletic Director Doug Woolard hosted a press conference Sunday, where he read a three-minute prepared statement on the university’s decision, with a Q-and-A session that followed. It was his first press conference since Basketball Media Day in October, when he refused to answer questions about football or Holtz.
It took three measly minutes to cover what most agree wasn’t a pretty season for the Bulls – with USF going 3-9 overall and missing yet another chance for a bowl game. This follows the 2011 season when the Bulls went 5-7 and missed a bowl game for the first time in school history.
This should give USF students and fans a glimpse into what’s been going on behind closed doors and USF administrators’ failures to answer questions about a season that’s produced little to be proud of.
Perhaps a more important question to ask would be what led us here, to the point of having to fire a prominent member of the USF community, a person who so many of us – students, faculty and administrators alike – have come to call a mentor and friend?
In a Voodoo Five article posted almost a month before Holtz’s firing, Collin Sherwin examines the numbers behind the Athletics program. Taken from the 2011 USA Today Athletics Database, Sherwin explains that USF has “the
smallest budget in the Big East, but the highest amount of student fees paid directly by tuition dollars to athletics” – students account for $15,231,708 of that budget.
Ironically, both Holtz and Woolard, with base salaries of $2 million and $709,657, respectively, were also compensated the second-highest amount when compared to equivalent positions in all other Big East schools.
In short, there is more than one person responsible for this year’s football season fiasco.
Woolard, who came to USF in May 2004 and committed himself to the athletics program, is a man who upon his hiring “set a goal … to make USF one of the best programs in the conference.” And, since then, “has stressed the importance of a strong partnership between staff, student-athletes and community.”
Yet by not holding press conferences throughout the football season, Woolard failed to engage the community, act professionally and with a level of transparency as someone in his office, who should ultimately be committed and accountable to fee-paying students, should.
As a student, sports fan and supporter of this university I believe that the administration, faculty and staff of USF have a responsibility to their students – and no one, not even President Judy Genshaft herself should be exempt from that.
USF strives to uphold 16 values, among them “excellence in teaching and learning” and being “transparent (in) accountability along with timely and effective communication,” as outlined in its Strategic Plan.
The length of time it took for USF to grab hold of the situation has caused it to lose sight of what it means to be a part of a thriving community, and ultimately to hurt its values as a university.
Brittany Cerny is a senior majoring in mass communications.