I was moved by a recent letter from a UW-Madison engineering professor questioning the generous financial package being awarded to UW athletic director Barry Alvarez while the school is being forced to cancel academic courses due to lack of funding.

The irony is Alvarez was hired during UW-Madison Chancellor Donna Shalala's era as part of her efforts to raise the profile of the athletic department. Shalala's hope was that success on the athletic field would translate into increased support for university programs around the state.

Unfortunately, the opposite has occurred. In recent years, taxpayer support for UW as an institution has fallen in direct proportion to the unprecedented levels of success enjoyed by the athletic department.

Do we really want to offer another multi-million-dollar contract to some athletic prima donna who'll stay in Wisconsin for a few years, only to up and leave whenever a better financial opportunity presents itself?

If our state enjoyed unlimited financial resources, I'd say go for it. But as Gov. Scott Walker so often reminds us, our resources are limited and we're now forced to make some "tough choices."

It hurts to admit it, but restoring the academic reputation of our university is more critical to ensuring Wisconsin's future than just trying to win another football game.

— Warren J. Gordon, Madison

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