ACTA President Takes Shot at University for Failing to Steer $60M Gift Away from Baseball Stadium

Binghamton University’s sports facilities in Vestal (NY) will be transformed with a $60 million anonymous gift that will create a new Baseball Stadium Complex for the Bearcats.  Read more here.  View renderings here.  Of course, there always has to be one critic in the house.  Read more here.  While we get where Michael Poliakoff, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, is coming from, this scolding is unwarranted:

“While the anonymous donor may have insisted on funding this project, there comes a point when university officials have a pedagogical and moral responsibility to channel negotiations toward a project that reasonably advances the core mission of the university—teaching, learning, and research.”

First, how does Poliakoff know that BU officials didn’t try steer the money in a different direction?  If so, and the donor was immovable, BU did the absolute right thing by accepting the very generous gift and marketing the project in the best way possible.  A decision otherwise would have been completely irresponsible.  Second, the donation is/was anonymous.  How does Polikoff know whether or not this donor makes academic donations as well?  He doesn’t.  Look, if a wealthy donor wants a project of this magnitude, they have obviously given it plenty of thought, and it’s the project they want.  Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

We’re not sure why Poliakoff had to weave publicly funded sports stadiums into this, as it’s irrelevant here.


Filed under Design & Construction, Money & Financials, Stadium Issues

9 responses to “ACTA President Takes Shot at University for Failing to Steer $60M Gift Away from Baseball Stadium

  1. Except that it’s not “FREE.” If you’d ever done any substantive research into the subject, you’d understand that. Poliakoff’s point, which you missed, is that BU has compromised its integrity by accepting money that’s inconsistent with the university’s mission. They’re not the first, so spare us any “whataboutism.” I’m more than a little familiar with how this works:

    • Administrator

      Dear Anonymous:

      Did you even read what I wrote? You should read it again.

      No matter how you slice it, it’s a free $60 million! Any university would be stupid not to accept it! You will have to explain your snarky “if you’d ever done any substantial research into the subject, you’d understand that.” What subject? If you are talking about upkeep costs, a university is going to have those costs, no matter the facility — sports, academic or otherwise. And explain exactly how BU has compromised its integrity by accepting the money, because Poliokoff did a lousy job of it? As I see it, the university offers 19 varsity sports for student athletes. Is BU compromising their integrity by offering sports? If not, how can accepting a brand new facility that could enhance and elevate one of the sports compromise their integrity? Is Poliokoff arguing that we get rid of college sports? If so, then we know where he is coming from. He should just say it.

      Poliokoff should take his argument to the trustees of Boise State University, which added blue turf to the football field as a marketing gimmick more than 30 years ago, which has lead to national attention, substantial improvements to the football stadium and sports facilities, elevated its academics and academics facilities, and provided educational opportunities to more and more students at an economical price. More upgrades are on the way:

      There was no compromising integrity here. The school went from a commuter school to a nationally known university that has elevated its programming and academics to a level far exceeding what it was then. At some point, the university will end up in the PAC-12, along with school like Stanford and USC. What really moved the ball here? The football program. Hindsight is 20/20. Do you think the trustees would go back to Poliokoff’s view 30 years ago knowing what they know today? No way in hell!


      • Anonymous? Apparently my screenname, logo, year of birth, and my actual name on my ***master’s thesis*** too subtle.

        But by all means, please regurgitate your circular and shallow arguments. That’ll convince me. It’s the intellectual equivalent of… Sorry. My bad. Too many big words in a row… It’s the same as YELLING.

      • Administrator

        Yes, anonymous. This information below attached to your post doesn’t cut it:

        February 20, 2020 at 6:01 am

        Second, you simply providing a link in your comments to some thesis doesn’t tell me that you actually wrote it. It might imply it, but you didn’t say it. For all I know, you might have simply read it and pointed to it as a source. As your elder, I would suggest you communicate more clearly to avoid confusion. Instead of a snarky and arrogant “I’m more than a little familiar with how this works:” — a statement like, “Please find below a link to a thesis about the athletic sponsorship between Nike and the University of Oregon I wrote 24 years go:”

        Look, I don’t want to take this down to your level, but you come off as a child — or an arrogant, elitist, know-it-all who thinks they are too smart and above everyone else to have an adult discussion. You sound like an a** to everyone who is reading this thread. Now that we all know that you are THE Luke M. Erickson, I am sure everyone is impressed. Honestly, you come off as Professor Gerald Lambeau in the film Good Will Hunting. Just replace “Fields medal” with “thesis” in the clip below:

        I am happy to engage with you and have an adult discussion. You can start by answering my questions regarding Poliokoff’s opinion piece. I would suggest you re-read what I wrote and respond the points made. If you are against athletics in college or sponsorships involving sports or sports facilities, then just say so. We can agree to disagree.


      • As soon as you can rise UP to my level, I’ll engage. But given that your rebuttal is a youtube video, that seems highly unlikely. So I will not waste any more of my time.

      • Administrator

        Another impressive, intellectual response. Can you simply answer the fundamental questions I posed? I didn’t think so. If you were on the stand in the courtroom, I think I would have to ask the judge to treat you as a hostile witness.

        Up to your level? I am a licensed attorney who graduated from a top 20 law school. I have worked for four (4) U.S. senators and a president. I have also been engaging and talking about the “business” of baseball for two decades. I think I am more than capable and qualified to discuss and/or debate this issue with you.

        For those of you reading these comments, please enjoy this article posted by the University of Oregon regarding the generous giving by Phil and Penny Knight:

        For those who are interested in reading Mr. Erickson’s scathing thesis about the athletic sponsorship agreement between Nike and the University of Oregon from 24 years ago, it can be found, ironically, at the “Knight” Library. Please click on the link below:


    • Administrator

      If you are talking about ethics, you are trying wrap the Nike anchor around the neck of an anonymous donor. Poliokoff hasn’t provided any evidence whatsoever that there is unethical dealing here. Again, does he know that BU didn’t try to steer the money elsewhere? Does he know that the anonymous donor does not provide academic scholarships or money for academic facilities? Does he know that the money came with any strings? He certainly didn’t lay out the case for BU selling out. Let him provide the facts and prove it. Yes, I am not naive enough to believe there is never a trade off. But, maybe the donor here want’s nothing in return. Maybe the donor simply wants his or her family name on the ballpark for legacy purposes? We don’t know. But, if that is all it is, so what? Yes, and if a company buys naming rights for a facility, they want advertising. Of course, and that’s a fair benefit. If it is a food company, they will likely want their products being sold in the facility, and that’s fair too.


  2. Yikes. It’s frightening to consider that someone might actually deign to argue that the overall mission of a college or university might actually be more important than any one department. Because there are absolutely NO examples of college athletics being corrupt, self-serving, or unethical.

    • Administrator

      Your sarcasm misses the point. Nobody is arguing against the primary mission of our educational institutions. Accepting $60 million in FREE money for a sports venue does not change that mission. And again, how do we know whether or not this anonymous donor gives educational dollars for scholarships to the university too? We don’t, but my bet is that the $60 million isn’t the only money this person has ever donated to the institution. The writer has insufficient facts on which to hammer the donor or the university. It’s an unfair attack.


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