Thu Mar 05 12:34pm EST
The University of Texas has a demographic problem: State law requires public universities to admit any Texas student who finishes in the top 10 percent of their high school's graduating class. As the state continues to grow, that's a lot of kids -- in just a decade, the share of "10 percent" students enrolling in the university has more than doubled, to 86 percent of incoming freshman. What if that number keeps rising?
First, said UT president William Powers in arguing against the requirement in front of the state legislature Wednesday night, the university will have to stop admitting international and out-of-state students altogether. Then, as the glut get completely out of hand, it will have to ... eliminate football?
Without some change to the law, UT will be forced to reject all Texas high school graduates who are not in the top 10 percent by 2013, according to a report by the university. By 2015, the report said, there will be no room in the freshman class for students from other states or countries. "It has become a crisis for us," Powers said. "We’re simply out of space." Asked about athletics, he said such programs, including football, might also have to be eliminated eventually. Most football players do not rank in the top 10 percent.
Say this for William Powers: The man has cojones, if not a great sense of quelling mass public outrage and fear. Besides serving as the de facto face of the university -- and, to some extent, the state -- at last check, Texas football was worth nearly $40 million in annual net revenue, more than any other program in the country. If the university ever seriously considered scuttling football, half the state would descend on Austin to burn down the administration tower, and the legislature would pass out the torches. They're proud of their school and all, but no Longhorns, no Texas.
So big, broad, 10-gallon hats off to you, President Powers, for putting your finger anywhere near that red button -- hell, for suggesting that button even exists, even if its deployment is beyond anyone's wildest imagination. Makers of canned goods, masking tape, gas masks, bunkers, urine-powered scooters and multi-colored threat charts everywhere commend your commitment to spreading the cause of hyperbole and fear.