Athletic Association puts students second

On Jan. 23, the Technique broke the story that Athletic Association had pulled a fast one on its own students by cutting its annual deal with WREK radio. While our consensus opinion in that week’s edition showed both sides of the issue, I believe that this decision merely exemplifies the way the AA seems to regard Tech students.

The problem, as I see, it is mainly twofold. First, the structure of the AA (as a corporation) is such that its interests are not necessarily the same as those of the students of the Institute at large. Second, the institutional and bureaucratic nature of an organization such as the AA reduces the likelihood of change that is unfavorable to its employees.

According to Article 3 of the AA’s articles of incorporation, its primary objective is “to promote the educational program of the Georgia Institute of Technology by encouraging participation by the student body in athletic and physical education program[s]….” It is also stated under Article 2 that the AA “is organized and shall be operated exclusively for educational and charitable purposes without profit.” Similar statements are also made in the AA’s bylaws.

If you’re anything like me, comparing these statements with the AA that I’m familiar with makes me laugh out loud. Is it possible that a corporation operating without the motive of profit would jilt a student radio station over a measly $30,000, especially when we’re talking in terms of a $5 million a year deal?

To me, that’s simple, ruthless cruelty, and I question the current AA administration’s motives. We, as a body of students and alumni, need to carefully consider whom we put in charge of our organizations, especially when their stated primary goal is to enhance and support our educational programs.

This leads me to the second reason why I feel the AA is failing to serve the students of Tech. The institutional nature of any organization, body or corporation demands three things of it. One, it must survive. In order to fulfill whatever goals it has, any organization must simply exist, else it cannot accomplish those goals.

Two, once some goals are accomplished, it must create new goals, else it has no reason for continued existence. Usually those goals incrementally increase in scope, requiring more funds and manpower, and gradually increase its influence and power over some population.

Three, in relation especially to corporations, it must keep its people employed, especially those with high power position and good salaries. If the corporation ceases to exist, these people must find new (possibly lower paying) jobs.

We can see how these relate to the AA. First, the AA must exist. I don’t think the AA is in any real danger of disappearing. Students and alumni would be calling for blood if there were no Tech football, basketball and baseball to watch on a regular basis.

Second, the AA wasn’t satisfied with its previous $3 million a year contract with ISP Sports, so it sought a new $5 million a year contract to allow it to expand operations. Without the money, it cannot increase its reach and scope of operations. Why it really needs to do so is beyond me (maybe so we can pay our football coach five times as much as the head of the Institute, but that’s another topic altogether).

Third, not only do the employees of the GTAA want to stay employed, but the more money they bring in, the more they secure their employment and possibly provide for a raise for themselves.

The corporate structure of and institutional and bureaucratic nature of the AA have led to an environment where business-minded—not education-minded—individuals like Radakovich are made head of an organization supposedly acting in the interests of the education of students.

Actions always speak louder than words and the actions of Radikovich and company in the spurning of our student-run WREK radio have shown that the AA’s motives are not those it claims to have on paper.

I know there will be many objections to what I’ve written here, even from students, but as you write in with those objections, keep in mind: What does the AA’s snubbing of WREK radio do for you, academically or even to the performance of Tech’s athletes?

As Clough put it in the closing remarks of a 1999 presentation, Tech’s “main mission [is] to produce the best alumni.” We cannot rest on our laurels and must continually ask if everything at Tech continues to serve that mission.