Help keep Big Red drive alive

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Much has been made in many circles about the University of Nebraska's "N Drive," an attempt to raise $65 million to upgrade the university's athletic facilities, virology department and computer science lab.

"Why now?," "Why so much?," and "What's wrong with our priorities?," say the critics, including Gloria Masoner and Ronda Graff of the McCook Daily Gazette and Rainbow Rowell of the Omaha World-Herald.

Good questions. Good questions all. Any time a campaign of this magnitude is launched, it is right and proper to question the massive use of resources, regardless of whether the money comes from public or private sources.

Aren't there other projects more deserving? What's wrong with diverting some of the money we're spending for sports, and start using them to save some of the university jobs which are being cut?

That would be fine if it were that simple. But it's not.

As we argue about whether or not to support University of Nebraska athletics, we need to remember that the Cornhuskers' football success -- which started in 1962 with Bob Devaney's arrival -- has not cost the state, but has instead contributed mightily to the state's economy and to university activities. Football in Nebraska shows a profit -- in the millions -- every year, in addition to giving Nebraskans the greatest single rallying point in the state's history.

Nationally, Nebraska is known as "Big Red Country," home of national champions and Heisman Trophy winners. We can't give up on that. We don't dare give up on that. It's too much fun. It's too important to the state's identity to let slide because there are other issues which need addressing, too.

While we cannot ignore the state's economic responsibilities, we also dare not quit supporting one of America's premiere athletic programs: the Huskers of the University of Nebraska.

From the money being raised, the university will construct a virology center, develop a computer lab, add 5,000 seats in the north stadium and construct a new athletic complex in honor of Tom and Nancy Osborne.

The state's greatest priorities? Perhaps not. But, in order to maintain the Big Red's momentum and keep Nebraska a nationwide leader in athletic excellence, the N Drive is important to the state's future, especially from the standpoints of image, entertainment and the inspirational value of the Huskers' pursuit of excellence.

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