Honor and Glory. By Tom Griffin, Jon Marmor and Beth Luce

Kate O'NeillLaw Professor Kate O'Neill is vice president of the UW chapter of the American Association of University Professors and a member of the UW Faculty Senate. On the law faculty since 1993, her specialty is jurisprudence, intellectual property, and law and literature.

What should be the role of sports at the UW?
I don't attend or watch games regularly, but my sense is that teams can provide wonderful athletic and educational experiences for the student-athletes and that sports events are entertaining and community-building for all the constituencies of the UW—alums, students, faculty and administrators, and fans from Seattle and beyond. I also know that football, at least, is regarded as key to building alumni support and donations.

Has the UW's reputation been hurt by recent sports scandals?
I think so. If nothing else, it casts doubt on our hiring judgments.

Does a winning or losing program affect the UW's ability to attract faculty or students?
I doubt it has much impact on faculty recruitment. Perhaps it has some modest impact on students, although I suspect that most students come here because of UW's academic and research reputations, as well as locale and in-state tuition.

I am a pointy-headed academic who, predictably, thinks that the University's priorities should be student learning and research.Why do you think university sports programs have so many problems following NCAA rules?
I suppose competitive personalities, who are often lavishly paid, develop supersized egos and may regard themselves as above the rules. I am reminded of the saying: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Does character matter? Would a university want a coach of good character who doesn't win?
Absolutely. We are an educational institution first and foremost. Everything the University does, and everybody who works here, should model ethical conduct at all times. Obviously, it would be nice to have a coach of good character who also wins, but if there really is a choice between character and winning (which I very much doubt there is) then go for character. Character and the lessons it teaches last; wins come and go with the season.

Why put so many resources into what some say is a training campus for pro sports? Is it worth it, given the scandals that keep occurring?
Personally, I probably wouldn't put the resources here, but I am a pointy-headed academic who, predictably, thinks that the University's priorities should be student learning and research that benefits the public interest. Athletics, for me, are incidental, a sideshow of sorts, that can enhance the University but should not divert needed resources away from teaching and research.

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