Columnist reacts to the largest gift in school history

By: Chris Zimmer – Columnist, Junior

What would you do with $12.5 million?

The University of Dayton announced it received the largest donation in school history from the George and Amanda Hanley Foundation Friday.

President Dan Curran told the Dayton Daily News, “This will help make a difference in ways we cannot even imagine.”

And how so? School officials also told the DDN the money will be going toward “sustainability education.” While I did praise our school in the last issue for being pioneers among universities divesting in coal and fossil fuel, I think there’s a program lacking funds and attention on campus: the Flyer football team.

Just think about it. Every Saturday we watch millions of students participate in this social and athletic experience. We could go watch our Flyers, but it’s not the same caliber as such schools like the University of Cincinnati or Miami (OH).

It’s not like our Flyers haven’t accomplished great feats either. They won the NCAA Division III Championship in 1980 and 1989, and lost in 1981, 1987 and 1991.

The football program was then promoted to the NCAA I Football Championship Subdivision series by joining the Pioneer League, a conference in which schools don’t award scholarships. The Flyers continued their excellence on the gridiron by winning two division titles and 11 conference championships, the last one in 2010.

Head coach Rick Chamberlin since has lead the team to a good record, but, despite the large trophy, it was all pointless because the PFL didn’t get an automatic bid in the NCAA I FCS playoffs.

Butler University became the first team to play in the playoffs last year.

Now, there’s a small dilemma for the Flyers if they’re to run the table and win the PFL this year. Theoretically if we did well enough to earn home-field advantage, UD could possibly be playing on national TV, except in a high school stadium. Dayton Public Schools own and operate the facility, and removed UD’s color and logo off the turf after UD sold the stadium to them.

It’d be utterly embarrassing, but it might happen.

The school should work with the facilities management department to undertake another project to expand Baujan Field.

They shouldn’t just add seats, but install a track as well. There’s no doubt student attendance would skyrocket.

Guests would be on-campus and not on the border of town.

This would be a long-term project, (and it’s probably not going to happen), but we can’t forget about our student-athletes who don’t play on the hard wood.

Why not give a full scholarship to a football player who works year-round like a member of the basketball team or any other varsity sport?

Donor George Hanley said, “At the end of the day, this gift is about the students.”

Not all the money has to go to the football program, but it should be considered. Sustainability education would directly affect a selected group of students.

Why not give at least a few scholarships out to bring in some good players? or distribute an equal amount among those already there? I’m sure there is plenty of money to accomplish more than an academic program and build a community.

Flyer News: Univ. of Dayton's Student Newspaper