A Victory For Integrity

Virginia played their annual rivalry game with Virginia Tech this weekend. This year’s game had unusual importance, in that it was not only a conference game this time, but the ACC title and a possible BCS bid was at stake (in part). It was a tight game for most of the contest, but late in the game, the Hokies seized control and won handily 24-10.
But still, Virginia is a winner.
They are winners because after the game, Virginia President John Casteen announced that UVA would not accept a bid for any bowl game played during exams, a period between December 13-21. The key here is that the Cavaliers, as I predicted, were in line to get a bid to the Champ Sports Bowl in Orlando. That bowl is played on December 21.
Kudos to UVA! What a great message for college athletics. Remember these players (and band members, cheerleaders, student-trainers, dancers, etc.) are all students first. Football is an extra-curricular activity, so let’s not forget (as the SportsProf wrote) the curricular.
At bigtime D1 programs, bowl games mean a lot. They mean money, a nice trip for the players and their families, a validation of the season, recruiting ammo, and a month or more of extra practice. For coaches, those extra practices are particularly valuable.
When Virginia said no to the Champs Sports Bowl (and hell, that name alone should have been a good enough reason to reject them), they took the very real risk that they’ll not go to any bowl game. Some are trying to “trade up” to the Peach Bowl, but that’s extremely unlikely to happen. More likely, UVA will have to travel to Boise, or it’s still possible that they’ll get shut out altogether. It’s not likely given the relatively small number of eligible teams nationally, but it could happen.
So kudos to the University of Virginia for striking a blow for academics against the big business of college sports. It probably only amounts to a drop of water against a granite boulder, but over time those drops could make their own bowl.

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