After months of agitation over claimed “endemic racism” at the University of Missouri, President Tim Wolfe resigned Monday, but only after 32 University of Missouri football players threatened to boycott upcoming games and practices. Mizzou’s Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin will also step down. In the end, it was the raw power of football money, not racism, that toppled the president.
- The openly gay, black student body president activist claimed he was called a racial epithet by a passing driver, although no one witnessed it and the driver was not identified as a student.
- There were two incidents of swastikas smeared on walls, one by a student who was disciplined.
- A drunk man yelled a racial epithet at a group of black students last year, although again it was unknown if he was a student.
- The University was accused of “silence” after the Ferguson riots.
- When the University imposed mandatory diversity training for faculty and students this year, protestors dismissed it as a “public relations approach”.
- And when protestors stopped the University President’s car during the recent homecoming parade, his refusal to get out of the car and, in the middle of the parade, to address their concerns was derided as insensitive.
The core grievance, of course, and as pointed out in the Columbian Missourian, is white privilege. A racist term in itself, it means that white leadership at that the University does not “understand the dynamic of a privileged race that has the luxury of disregarding the black experience.” Apparently it is irrelevant that many of the claimed racist actions were not associated with University students or staff. The University and its “privileged” students are nonetheless guilty because they are there and they are white. And the grievances extends beyond race to “sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, and every other ‘ism and ‘phobia’ you can think about”.
Even the efforts at conciliation by President Wolfe meant nothing. He publicly lamented, “Racism does exist at our university, and it is unacceptable … as a long-standing, systemic problem which daily affects our family of students, faculty and staff. I am sorry this is the case.” He agreed that “it is clear to all of us that change is needed, and we appreciate the thoughtfulness and passion which have gone into the sharing of concerns.” But this was not enough to appease the protestors. They wanted more.
The protestors demanded a scalp, but could not get one. They could not until last week, and then came the game changer. Thirty-two players on the University of Missouri football team announced they were boycotting future games and practices unless President Wolfe resigned or was fired. Things got real, fast.
You see, football is big business, generating $14M in annual revenue for University of Missouri. While the University president earns an impressive $459K salary, that’s chump change compared to the football coach’s $4 MILLION salary.
To lose 32 players would effectively have meant forfeiture of the upcoming game against Brigham Young University, and a forfeiture under the game contract with BYU would mean a penalty of $1 million for this weekend alone, not including the loss of revenue. The math was simple. President Wolfe’s departure became a foregone conclusion.
So in the end, all the hunger strikes, protests, demands, and allegations accomplished nothing. Lost in the celebration among the protestors as they march around waving the president’s scalp is the uglier reality that what really controls the University is neither academic freedom nor racial conciliation, but big money sports.