The coach with the most wins in college basketball history, Duke University’s Mike Krzyzewski, would probably like to forget his final home game at the school on Saturday night. Andy Nesbitt writes for USA Today:
Unranked North Carolina went into Cameron Indoor Stadium… and ruined Mike Krzyzewski’s last home game by beating the Blue Devils, 94-81, and making a lot of Duke fans feel sad in the process.
Coach K was ready for a big party Saturday night, as he had lots of his former players in attendance but it ended up with him apologizing to the crowd before a postgame ceremony.
The game also ended with one of Coach K’s assistant coaches refusing to shake hands with UNC head coach Hubert Davis.
After apologizing to his home crowd following Saturday’s game, Mr. Krzyzewski added, “It was unacceptable. Today was unacceptable, but the season has been very acceptable.”
Yes, Duke has won a lot of games this season as they have routinely during the coach’s remarkable 42-year tenure at the school. But one would hope that those 42 years have been about more than just winning basketball games. To publicly apologize after a loss and call the team’s performance “unacceptable” is disrespectful to the opponent. North Carolina played an exceptional game and earned the victory, as the Duke coach later acknowledged in a press conference.
The behavior of Mr. Krzyzewski and his assistant is disappointing but not nearly the worst exhibited by college coaches this season. Michigan’s coach was recently suspended for slapping an opposing coach in a post-game handshake line, an action that really is unacceptable.
But the Duke display was also striking because media outlets have spent years presenting Duke basketball as essentially the model NCAA sports program, featuring not just superior play on the court but also an exemplary commitment to education, character and values. Perhaps this is another median narrative that deserves closer examination.
Speaking of Questioning University Reputations
While this column is on the subject of reviewing media narratives about academic institutions, a Columbia professor is questioning his own university’s high ranking in a widely quoted assessment. Michael Elsen-Rooney reports in the New York Daily News:
A Columbia University math professor took his red pen to the numbers that vaulted his school to a second-place ranking on the US News and World Report list of best colleges — and argues the digits don’t add up.
In a lengthy article posted last week, Columbia math professor Michael Thaddeus sifted through data the university provided to US News for its annual rankings and concluded “several of the key figures supporting Columbia’s high ranking are inaccurate, dubious, or highly misleading.”
… Columbia spokesman Scott Schell said the university “stand[s] by the data we provided to US News and World Report.”
The university quarrels with a number of the professor’s arguments but one in particular may be difficult to rebut. Mr. Elsen-Rooney reports:
Thaddeus was… suspicious of the eye-popping $3.1 billion the university claimed to spend on “instruction” during the 2019-20 school year — another metric in the US News rankings. “This is a truly colossal amount of money,” he wrote. “It is larger than the corresponding figures for Harvard, Yale, and Princeton combined.”
Combing through the university’s financial records, Thaddeus concluded that Columbia’s $3.1 billion number must have also included the cost of providing patient care in the university’s hospitals — an expense he argues would be a stretch to classify as “instructional.”
Other universities, including NYU, explicitly left the cost of patient care out of the sum they reported spending on instruction, Thaddeus added.
Columbia officials didn’t explain how they arrived at the $3.1 billion figure.
According to the Daily News report, the Columbia prof isn’t just criticizing his own institution over the lofty ranking:
“If the institution in second place is shown to have inaccuracies, that really sheds some doubt on the value of the entire rankings,” Thaddeus said, adding that the magazine “should be vetting the tops schools very thoroughly.”
US News chief data strategist Robert Morse said “we rely on schools to accurately report their data and ask academic officials to verify that data.”
The professor writes a lengthy analysis on the Columbia website which reads in part:
A selling point of the US News rankings is that they claim to be based largely on uniform, objective figures like graduation rates and test scores. Twenty percent of an institution’s ranking is based on a “peer assessment survey” in which college presidents, provosts, and admissions deans are asked to rate other institutions, but the remaining 80% is based entirely on numerical data collected by the institution itself. Some of this is reported by colleges and universities to the government under Federal law, some of it is voluntarily released by these institutions to the public, and some of it is provided directly to US News…
Can we be sure that the data accurately reflects the reality of life within the university? Regrettably, the answer is no.
When the CEO of a large public company says things that are unhelpful to his business and/or annoying to many of his customers, there’s a good chance he’s speaking candidly. So it’s worth reflecting on a series of tweets that Tesla co-founder Elon Musk
publishedbeginning on Friday:
Hate to say it, but we need to increase oil & gas output immediately. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures.
Obviously, this would negatively affect Tesla, but sustainable energy solutions simply cannot react instantaneously to make up for Russian oil & gas exports…
Hopefully, it is now extremely obvious that Europe should restart dormant nuclear power stations and increase power output of existing ones.
This is *critical* to national and international security.
Also nuclear is vastly better for global warming than burning hydrocarbons for energy
For those who (mistakenly) think this is a radiation risk, pick what you think is the worst location. I will travel there & eat locally grown food on TV.
I did this in Japan many years ago, shortly after Fukushima. Radiation risk is much, much lower than most people believe.
Bottom Stories of the Day
Questions Nobody Is Asking
“What Does the End of Beef Mean for Our Sense of Self?,” New York Times, March 3
Search Continues for White House Accomplishments
“’Joe Biden right now is the only president in history where no one’s paid on their student loans for the entirety of his presidency,’ Biden’s top aid said,” Politico, March 4
We Blame George W. Bush
“Florida man blames Putin for why he was speeding, bodycam footage shows,” Fox News, March 2
James Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival.”
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