Let's put it this way: It probably wasn't part of the plan to have out this calm-the-waters tweet after unveiling the new football facility.
LSU unveiled its new football facility this week, highlighted by the state-of-the-art locker room featuring nap pods in every locker, which caused some grumbling across campus. It's far from the first time the academic side of the house has griped about spending on the athletics side, but rarely has that age-old quarrel played out so publicly.
Here's LSU communications professor Robert Mann:
And here's LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (the tweet has since been deleted).
In an op-ed in The Advocate, LSU student government leader Catherine McKinney wrote:
This week, LSU’s Tiger Athletic Foundation revealed a brand-new athletic facility complete with nap pods, an executive chef, a players’ lounge and more. Coupled with the news earlier in the week that LSU was millions of dollars short on its estimated budget, this boast of a $20 million-plus facility solely for athletes seemed a bit tone-deaf. I displayed my concern with the inequity between academics and athletics on Twitter. My tweet highlighted LSU’s locker room reveal and added a picture of the flooding in our library basement, with the caption, “This is our library.”
The library McKinney mentions is the Middleton Library, which, according to local reports, has been become a symbol of campus neglect by Louisiana's state legislature. It's also the subject of a GoFundMe, inspired by the new football complex.
"We all love our football team. We are proud of the work they do every day to represent our school. We are happy that donors stepped forward to provide them world-class facilities," the page states. "Now its time the rest of us step forward to provide a world-class facility for the entire student body."
As of press time, the GoFundMe had raised $2,177 of its $20 million goal. (LSU says it plans to build a new library in a different location.)
Every penny of the $28 million used to build the new football complex was privately raised, of course. So it's not so much that academics wants to dip its hands into to the athletics coffers so much as it is academics using the facility as a lightning rod to point out financial issues within the university.
But wait, there's more!
Former LSU player and current NFL safety Eric Reid used the facility's unveiling to argue the $28 million should have gone to the players instead.
If athletics is truly the front porch of the university, at some new front porch furniture has got the whole neighborhood talking.