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What’s in a Name?

Just a few weeks ago, a facility renovation five years in the making finally came to fruition, as supporters of the Miami Hurricanes Baseball Program celebrated the dedication of the completed “Alex Rodriguez Park,” in Coral Gables Florida.  A-Rod Park was funded in part by the controversial major leaguer of the same name as he made a donation of approximately $4 million in 2003.  Although Rodriguez never played for the Hurricanes, he was heavily recruited by the program before signing a major league contract in the early 1990s.

Rodriguez’s gift is rare, but not an anomaly in collegiate athletics, as professional athletes have been contributors to major projects in the past.  What is unique about this situation is the recent developments surrounding Rodriguez’s professional career and his admittance to using performance enhancing drugs.  What, if any, long term effects might this have on the University of Miami?  In addition, what example might this be setting for student athletes on the baseball team?

My initial thought was that the A-Rod scandal would have no significant tangible effects on the Miami Baseball program.  Sure some of the press surrounding the dedication was allocated to the drug scandal, but then again, it gave the University of Miami a national stage for what would otherwise be a simple stadium dedication.

I worry, however, about the potential long-term effects of the recent A-Rod news.  What will happen if Rodriguez replaces Barry Bonds as the scapegoat for the so-called “Steroid-Era” in Major League Baseball?  Will recruits think twice about Miami?  How does Miami explain to their student-athletes and the campus community how they plan to celebrate a man who used performance enhancing drugs, something collegiate athletes are told to avoid?  Is this not a slight conflict of interest?

Ultimately, I believe change in Alex Rodriguez’s image will have little to no long-term effect on the University of Miami Baseball program.  After-all, they will play in a beautiful new stadium for the foreseeable future, and communities have a way of forgiving poor behavior in their supporters if the team keeps winning.  The point being, when taking donations from figures who frequently find themselves in the national media, must some attention must be paid to their image and actions?  I would guess that no university wishes to link themselves to a “cheater,” despite the improved facilities that may result.

Alex Rodriguez Park facts and pictures can be found here.

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April 3, 2009 - Posted by | Baseball, College Sports Business, Facilities and Events |

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