When the member institutions of the Southeastern Conference debated whether to admit the University of Missouri, their biggest concern was that Missouri would lower the academic standards of the SEC. Several participants pointed out, for example, that Rush Limbaugh is from Missouri, hardly suggesting a regard for learning. But, Missouri's supporters countered, Harry Truman was a Missourian too, and Truman was a voracious reader.
Sadly, the fears about academic shortcomings now seem well founded. The new University of Missouri president has announced that the university press will be closed for unprofitability, making Missouri the only SEC member without a university press. Critics have noted that a mere $400,000 would be needed to save the press, while the salary of the Missouri football coach is $2.7 million. The president replied, unpersuasively, that the coach has to work outside, sometimes in inclement weather. Missouri needs reminding by the more scholarly institutions of the SEC, perhaps in the form of a joint refusal to play the Tigers until they wise up, that the university experience is not just about football. Not in the SEC. The Big 12, maybe.