Wednesday, July 28, 2010

BSU vs. U of I

The Statesman has a front page story today quoting BSU President Bob Kustra as saying that he doesn't care is BSU football ever plays U of I football again, because "it's a culture that's nasty [and] inebriated." Ouch.

I'm sure that UI fans are feeling kind of bruised about their rivalry with BSU these days. For many years, it was the leading university in the state. Many of the best programs, largest enrollment, best sports teams, and had the law school. Its graduates populated most of the most influential jobs, including many seats in the legislature. But now, that's changing.

BSU's football team is clearly the marquee team in Idaho, completely eclipsing UI's team. BSU now has the largest enrollment, it's growing and expanding its campus, its research grant money is flowing in faster and faster, and it looks poised to assume the mantle of the premiere university in the state. Of course, all the UI fans in influential positions will continue to try to hinder that and to promote UI, but it seems inevitable (to me, at least).

Another thing that appears inevitable (to me) is that the UI law school is essentially doomed, unless UI wises up and moves it to Boise or somewhere in the Treasure Valley. Concordia is opening a law school soon here in Boise, and once that gets up and running and accredited (assuming it does), it will start to siphon off students that are now going to UI.

Moscow is a pretty place and all, but the expense of moving there, and the relative lack of law-related employment opportunities in Moscow versus the Treasure Valley, makes it almost a no brainer that many students will choose Concordia over UI. UI law school is a good school and turns out fine lawyers, but it's a third-tier law school and doesn't really have any particular reason to draw students there, once there is an alternative. It shouldn't take Concordia too long to get at least ranked in the third tier, along with the UI law school, thus evening out any academic distinction between the two.

Concordia will be able to access leading lawyers in the state to serve as adjunct professors, its students will have the Supreme Court library about 6 blocks away, and the students will have many, many more chances to work in a legal position while in school. It's a location advantage that Moscow will never be able to match.

I talked to UI legal intern (he was in his 3rd year), and the guy said that he had to give up his business to move to Moscow, couldn't find a part time job, and his wife couldn't find a very decent paying job in the area, either. A huge economic hit. He'd have signed up at Concordia in a heartbeat, if he'd have had the option.

Once UI law-related enrollment dips, it could sink into sort of a death spiral (not that it will die, just shrink substantially). Less $$ to support it, fewer and fewer students, harder and harder to get the good professors. And over time (decades) as Concordia's grads work into influential positions, and into the legislature, one of UIs advantages (influence) will be offset and diminished.

Maybe the latter point is too distant and pie in the sky, but I do think that UI's salad days are soon to be over.


Anonymous said...

1. UI has tried on several occasions to open a full law school in Boise, but the State Board of Education has squashed it.

2. 11% graduation rate at BSU does not make it the premier univ in the state.

3. BSU's research grants are still a fraction of what UI has and gets. Yes, it's improved, but does not come close to UI

4. What influential UI fans continue to hinder BSU? Would that be the president of the SBOE (the former Bronco Athletic Association president)? Would that be the same group that essentially required UI to move from the PCC (the predecessor of the PAC10) and join the Big Sky?

5. Nothing about the inappropriate remarks from Kustra? He's a slimy politician and he should never have said anything like this. If if wasn't for the unbelievable lovefest that people (including KTVB & the Statesman) have for bsu football, Kustra would be being villified for making such remarks. Can you imagine any other institutions leader calling another institution nasty & inebriated?

Skelly said...

Anonymous: Vandal booster much?

fortboise said...

Kustra's comments may have been ill-advised or impolitic, but to go from a legitimate complaint about bad behavior on the part of football fans to "slimy politician"? That wouldn't pass muster even if you had the strength of conviction to actually attach your name to your comment, Anon.

(Just for reference: the football obsession in Boise makes me gag, and I'm a UI alumnus.)