Alabama has built what strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran calls "the biggest, baddest weight room in the country," part of the ongoing arms race in college athletics. The two-story 37,000-square-foot facility cost $9 million.
It's part of the plan to keep Alabama at the top of its game, but beyond the $9 million, what is the cost?
Tutors, it appears, are among those being squeezed.
Birmingham News columnist John Archibald takes note of a recent change in policy at the university that has capped work hours for many graduate students — including athletic department tutors — at 20 hours.
Graduate School Dean Dave Francko blamed it all on the Affordable Care Act — often referred to as ObamaCare. It has redefined employees and will put limits on the number of hours grad students are allowed to work before the employer must provide insurance.
But Archibald says it's all a smoke screen. He writes:
"If we know anything, it is that the University finds money when it wants to find money.
"It can find money to pay President Judy Bonner $45,000 a month, for instance, with enough left over to offer her brother — soon-to-be ex-Congressman Jo Bonner — $350,000 a year to grease the political skids from the UA system office. And to raise more money.
"It can pay Francko himself $20,000 a month. It can cut a check to coach Nick Saban every month for $445,000. Every month. And that's OK."
And, of course, to spend $9 million on a new strength and conditioning facility.
Archibald knows he won't win this argument:
"I know, I know. You'd have to be an idiot to live in Alabama and not know already where the University's priorities lie. But they don't have to lie like this," he writes.When it comes to brawn, the Crimson Tide spare no expense. Brains, however, are another story.