Longhorns, Texas Gov’t Play Scholarship Chicken

A couple of days ago, the Texas state legislature made headlines by openly acknowledging a potential need to eliminate athletic scholarships at the University of Texas to facilitate the impossible increase in guaranteed acceptance students. What guaranteed acceptance, you ask? Well, before he was President of the United States, George W. Bush did a fine job ruining Texas’s education system, passing a bill in 2000 that ensured all students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class could attend any state college they chose. Naturally, nearly all chose to attend UT, and a shocking percentage of those Texas students then flunked out.

william powers mack brown joe paterno

(The man on the right is forcing Texas to decide between football and an archaic admissions standard. Guess what they’re going to choose?)

Unfortunately, that failure rate never dissuades future students from attending Texas, and the constant influx has left the Austin campus overflooded. Since those students are guaranteed admission, UT has to find another section to cut students in, and athletics was prominently mentioned. Well, one of the country’s top athletic departments is openly talking about eliminating its crown jewel athletic department, according to the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN.

Here’s what University of Texas president William Powers said about the need to cut athletics, a possibility he ensured one STATESMAN writer he was, “not about to let happen.”:

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.

Clearly, William Powers is not the kind of man you play poker with. Either he’s holding pocket 5’s or he has an ace and a queen and he’s waiting for the river. Neither option is an appetizing one for a conservative body like a state legislature, and Powers doesn’t seem willing to stop harassing short of the repeal of the “Top 10 percent rule.”

All of that just makes Austin an interesting place to watch while the drama unfolds. Texas isn’t the kind of state where you can back down easily, and neither of these two huge entities can back down now without losing face. This is high stakes political chicken, with football brought to the epicenter of debate. That makes the incident significantly more intruiging.

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