17 April 2011

AD Tom O’Connor Visits Sports Journalism Class

On Thursday afternoon George Mason athletic director Tom O’Connor gave a speech in front of select students of the communication department.  His message furthered the idea that the mission of the university lies in its academics, not in athletics.

“You hear people say athletics is a front door of the university.  That’s not true athletics is the side door and academics the front door”, said O’Connor.

 In 2006 George Mason University reached the college basketball Final Four.  According to O’Connor the Mason community reaped the benefits.  Enrollment spiked, going from 28,000 in 2006 to 32,000 this year.  Basketball became the focal point of the university’s athletic department and an incentive for those enrolling.

I respectfully disgree with our athletic director.

When O’Connor stated that athletics is a side door of the university, he was merely stating an ideal not the current situation.  Students have been coming to George Mason over the past few years to be a part of a community with a Division I basketball program and still have the ability to learn.

“Basketball is the face”, said O’Connor.

Yes, it’s the face and the front door.  Look at it this way, the front door is usually the first thing you see on a house.  After our trip to the Final Four enrollment sky rocketed, students saw this and became interested.  They were seeing basketball at the front door.

We have seen a chain reactions effect over the past few years, led by the success of the George Mason basketball team. 

The equation is simple George Mason basketball provided an increase in enrollment, leading to more money for the university.  The final result was expansion of both our campus and its academic program.

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