As Griz Nation Plays, UM Pays

by William Skink

August means hot weather, smoky skies, and prep for college football. Don’t worry, Griz fans, the program you idolize still appears to be the top priority for UM administrators, thanks to the deep, deep pockets of UM donors funneling millions into athletic projects on campus.

You see, it doesn’t matter that enrollment keeps going down which can be ascribed, at least in part, to the continued fall-out from Missoula’s rape scandal that emerged three years ago. And it doesn’t matter that UM had to absorb a 5.7 million dollar budget short-fall.

Nope, despite all that, a 2.5 million dollar student-athlete academic center broke ground last year and should be complete this fall. And if that’s not enough, last October it was announced that a 7 million dollar donation from Dennis Washington’s sons will help the University build a 14 million dollar “Champion Center”.

While students saddle themselves with debt to get a diminished academic product (accomplished by increasingly exploiting adjunct labor) it’s nice to know athletics are insulated from the economic reality facing academic departments as they struggle to implement budget cuts.

Why do athletes need an academic center? Here’s the reasoning from athletic director Kent Haslam:

“For us it’s really about providing the tools and providing the facilities that support student-athletes,” Haslam said. “We need to make sure we do all we can to make sure they are successful on the court and in the classroom.”

Maybe Haslam should look into providing some classes at this academic center about how to avoid getting arrested, and once getting arrested, how to appear IN court to be accountable for the behavior that continues getting football players in trouble:

Two Montana Grizzly football players had minor scrapes with the law late this week, just days before the opening of fall football practices.

Linebackers Herbert E. Gamboa, 21, and Jeremiah P. Kose, 22, were each booked into Missoula County jail on misdemeanor charges. Gamboa was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct early Friday morning while Kose was booked Wednesday evening for failing to appear in court on an original misdemeanor charge.

Gamboa, a starting outside linebacker and senior on the Grizzly football team, was picked up by officer Eric Weber in the early hours of Friday morning. Gamboa was booked at 1:34 a.m. and released a little more than an hour later on a bond of $185.

He appeared in Missoula City Municipal Court on Friday morning.

Kose was booked on Wednesday at 6:41 p.m. by officer Timothy Harrington. The Grizzlies’ senior starting middle linebacker posted his own bond of $310 and was released less than an hour later.

It makes sense that both football players arrested were linebackers when you consider their coach, Ty Gregorak, is the kind of guy who did this:

First-year UNLV assistant football coach Ty Gregorak was arrested in Boulder, Colo., after an incident last week outside of a strip club.

Gregorak, 31, was turned away this past weekend from the Nitro Club — located in the downtown Pearl Street Mall — by bouncer Joseph Benedetto after he determined Gregorak was too intoxicated to enter, according to Boulder police.

According to Gregorak’s Denver-based attorney, David Beller, Benedetto said that he contacted Gregorak while walking in an alley next to the club rather than trying to enter it.

A police report obtained by the Sun states that Gregorak then walked to a nearby parking garage and approached Benedetto’s Nissan Sentra, removing the man’s wallet from the center console and a loaded .45-caliber Glock 36 handgun from the glove compartment.

With a coach like this, is it any wonder his linebackers are already getting arrested before the season even starts.


About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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5 Responses to As Griz Nation Plays, UM Pays

  1. Rob Kailey says:

    Because of the rape scandal, The NCAA also did an investigation of the U of M. I’m curious if you read their report. I did. One of the factors they looked at was academic performance trends among student athletes, graduation rates, GPAs and major work placement. Montana was found lacking, with all trendlines pointing down. Lest anyone think I’m just shading the U, MSU had a similar investigation turn up the same things after the athlete-drug-ring/homicide scandal. It was the NCAA that proposed a center for student athlete success. The problems at MSU were not seen as systemic as at the U and some measures for controlling athletic recruitment, support, and Title IX compliance were already in place at the time MSU received its love letter from the NCAA. The NCAA along with the Department of Education deemed that U of M would have to take a more overt approach. And having an immense amount of sympathy in both the legislature and the Board of Regents for The University of Montana helps. So that has come to pass. (For the record, I’m a proponent of paying student athletes for the value they derive to a University budget. Especially when it comes t football, scholarships are just a come-on to spend four years being a cash cow.)

    I’m not going to pretend that assisting student athletes is anything but a profit (and sympathy) generator for the University. Nor am I going to pretend that it’s ‘fair’ to the rest of the student body who do not have that kind of support structure. MSU learned some things and has greatly reduced freshman drop out rates and recruiting, because those stylized support structures have been a priority for Cruzado. Without getting too far off track, maybe that has something to do with why MSU continues to increase enrollment and the U of M is taking costly measures to keep enrollment as steady as possible (like second year in the dorms underwritten in a budget shortfall.)

    We were all asked elsewhere on this site how we have ever suffered from a Democrat losing. Allow me to offer another example. Franke Wilmer losing to Jedediah Hinkle, an opponent of infrastructure and funding for higher ed relief. He even voted nay on the concurrent budget bill HB 2 which doomed infrastructure and discretionary increases to college campuses. In other words, he voted against the state budget with University relief stripped bare. Can anyone actually believe that Professor Franke Wilmer would have done that? And that’s really what it boils down to at the end of the day. Budget. In truth I would rather have the two highest paid state employees be the University Presidents as opposed to football coaches, like Michigan or Ohio. I’ll will happily admit that I would take Cruzado over Engstrom 7 days out of any week. We can blame athletics or the Board of Regents, but when all is said all those two Presidents have to work with are what students pay and how much the legislature values the education of Montana students. If we arrive at the conclusion that it’s “not much”, well we agree.

  2. Rob Kailey says:

    Still, I can’t shake this strange question. How does a student, any student, have $184 to post bail at 2:34 am on a Friday morning?

  3. Craig Moore says:

    Now this is Griz nation.

  4. looks like a little less grrr for the season opener.

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