Prodesse Quam Conspici.
The English translation of Miami University’s Seal, “To accomplish without being conspicuous,” exemplifies excellence, represented by Miami and its athletic department.
But the changing nature of college athletics threatens this excellence.
Trapped in a failing system, Miami is continuously presented with conflicting priorities: compete at the highest level while graduating students, enhance the university’s brand without losing on the field, develop players holistically but invest more in facilities, meet compliance measures yet attract top recruits.
Achieving athletic excellence at Miami is hard, if not impossible.
Given limited resources, much of the university’s continued athletic success on and off the field boils down to resource allocation rather than the hiring/firing of coaches or recruiting top classes.
Traditionally, Miami has represented what is right in sports. It develops student-athletes, values academics and produces champions, but a broken system is challenging the university’s integrity.
No longer are college athletic decisions based on what is best for athletes, and Miami is slowly following this trend. An emphasis on winning is important, but not when student-athletes suddenly become expendable commodities.
Today, Miami’s athletic integrity centers on resource allocation. Successful athletic program’s evaluative criteria are now big-name coaches, state-of-the-art facilities and lucrative television contracts, each pouring money into institutions craving top rankings rather than outstanding academic experiences.
But Miami is different; it values the academic experience.
As college athletics become more commercialized, Miami should stand out as the shining university on a hill. Unlike many institutions, Miami student-athletes not only graduate, but are also part of the academic excellence that defines this university and represents the ideal of a balanced life.
Over the last four years, coaches ranging from Coles to Fantanarosa to Kovach Schoenly to Jennings represented this athletic integrity and coaches like Blasi, Kramig, DeGirolamo and Dumitrescu continue this legacy of excellence.
The value of sports is the unrivaled face it gives humanity.
In his final Miami Student column last year, my colleague Brian Gallagher wrote, “Sports don’t give us an escape from life; they allow us to experience life in ways you can’t find elsewhere.”
This experience defines sports, and college athletics ideally combines this experience with the academic excellence that comes from an institution of higher learning.
But excellence in college athletics is now misconstrued solely as how often a program wins.
However, this is not the benchmark of success. Rather, it is the excellence programs like Miami have represented in the past and will hopefully represent in years to come.
Over the last four years, I have had the privilege of having a front-row ticket to this excellence. Whether it was witnessing conference championships, celebrating off-the-field success or meeting student-athletes, I can confidently say in my final column that what happens on the field is only one part of what an athletic program is all about.
The University Seal represents Miami’s ideals, but a new athletic emphasis on winning on the field, facility investment and improving revenue streams threatens them.
Miami’s Athletic Department, like students, should never step on the seal, but it is closer to doing so than ever before.
Excellence is not simply found through experiences symbolized by banners hanging from the rafters though, but is found through those indefinable experiences that have traditionally defined Miami athletics.
To achieve excellence, Miami must begin with the integrity found in the University Seal.
For Love and Honor.