Really, college athletics is about education (not)


Okay, somebody handed me a NCAA Men's Basketball Bracket to fill out. I don't know squat about college sports, so I decided that I would fill in the bracket based on the following simple principle: The school whose President (or Chancellor) has served longer will win the match-up. (Not counting the first-round games of the top five seeds in each bracket, just to avoid some wild upsets.)

At least I thought that was simple. Filling out the bracket given this rule turns out to be rather difficult, because I have yet to find a web site that has links to all the schools represented in this year's tournament. (I guess college athletics isn't about the academics, because if it were, then certainly people would be falling over themselves to extol the fantastic educational opportunities at the schools represented.)

And it's not exactly easy to figure out the school's web site from the bracket sheet. There is for example a team labelled simply "Texas". Do I want "The University of Texas at Austin"? Do I want "The University of Texas at Dallas"? Do I want "The University of Texas at Arlington"? "Texas State University"? "Texas College"? I'm guessing it's the University of Texas at Austin, though I might be wrong.

And then there's another box labelled "California". Which of the many California schools is that supposed to be? I don't even know what question to enter into a search engine to find out. (Turns out it's the University of California at Berkeley.)

Even after I hunt around to figure out which of the dozen universities named "Texas" I think I really want, I then have to find out who their President is and when they assumed office. Finding the President's page (or Chancellor's page) sometimes takes work, and even if you find it, it's sometimes wrong. For example, the first thing that I noticed on the page for Syracuse University's Chancellor Nancy Cantor is that it says "Learn about Chancellor-Elect Nancy Cantor". (If you don't see that phrase on the page, turn on your screen reader or disable images, or just hover over the "Inside the Chancellor's Site" link.)

"Well, great," I thought. "She's Chancellor-Elect, but who's the current chancellor?"

Turns out that Nancy Cantor is the current chancellor. She was inaugurated two years ago. The "Chancellor-Elect" text is badly out of date.

Even when I can find the site of the university's President/Chancellor it's sometimes quite a bit of work to find out when they took office. For example, go back to Nancy Cantor's page and try to figure out when she was inaugurated. You have to click on "Soul of Syracuse", then go to the News page, then scroll down to the article titled, "Amid grand community celebration, conversation and art, SU inaugurates Cantor as 11th Chancellor and President", click through to the article and read the dateline.

November 5, 2004.

That was a lot of work for a tiny bit of information that you think would be easily accessible on a biography page. Good luck finding the home page of the president of Utah State University; and if you manage to find the date at which he became president, then I tip my hat to you, because as far as I can tell they don't list that information on their web site.

(By the way, according to my highly scientific method, the final game between Villanova and George Washington University will be extremely close, with GWU eking out a victory by just two months, August 1, 1988 to October 5, 1988.)

Comments (29)
  1. Tim says:

    Stan Albrecht became president of Utah State on January 18, 2005.

    http://tv.ksl.com/index.php?sid=145341&nid=39&template=print

    Found it by searching for his name on the school’s website. Obviously not very well done.

  2. MSDNArchive says:

    Raymond, the rest of us just pick teams at random.  We spend a whole lot less time filling out our brackets that way! :)

  3. Dave Sobel says:

    Can you post the whole bracket? I’d love to see it.

  4. Don says:

    To determine what school California or Texas is refering to you can go to a site like Cbssportsline.  Open the bracket and click on the what school you want to research.  For example, when you click on California it opens up the stats for that team and it also includes the team’s mascot.  For California it is the Golden Bears.  Once you know the school’s name and mascot it will make you rsearch for the school’s website a whole lot easier.  As university chancellors – these links might help:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_chancellors_and_other_leaders_of_US_universities and this page maybe helpful to determine the websites for some of the Universities http://www.utexas.edu/world/univ/state/

  5. Keff says:

    Conclusion: Academic websites outside Czech Republic sucks.

  6. A regular viewer says:

    Wouldn’t it have been easier to pick up the phone and call the universities? Or was that not part of your self defined criteria?

  7. jeffdav says:

    Yeah, I was about to Utah and ask.  Good thing I checked the comments first!

  8. Miles Archer says:

    The usual logic of names is that California or Texas means "The University of". Good luck if California and UCLA meet as we have the same head guy. I know there’s both a president and a chancellor, but I don’t know which is which.

  9. bramster says:

    Raymond. . .  You’re complaining because of ambiguity in the search process?  Hmmmmph.  Kids! We used to have to go down to the quarry, mine some rocks, build a library, get some more rocks, carve them, and then read the rocks to get any information.

    You were lucky!

  10. evilgwyn says:

    You had rocks?

  11. dakirw says:

    Miles, to add to your comment, the state name is usually given to the flagship school, i.e., the first campus in the system. In California’s case, Berkeley was the first campus in the UC system, hence California.

  12. Brian says:

    UT Austin, UT Dallas, UT Arlington, UT Brownsville, UT Pan American, UT Permian Basin, UT El Paso, UT San Antonio, and UT Tyler all have the same chancellor: Mark G. Yudof appointed on August 1, 2002.

    http://www.utsystem.edu/cha/Yudofbio.htm

  13. theorbtwo says:

    Wikipedia is indeed an exelecent resource for this, but instead of the URL above, find the article on the individial school, for ex http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Texas, which gives the president (William C. Powers, stated as being in since 2006-2-1 in his article) in the sidebar, the fact that it’s often called just "Texas" in the first paragraph.  If that wasn’t enough, it also gives the mascot and colours in the sidebar.

    Oh, and it also seems to indicate it has a good basketball team; you might want to rethink your system.

  14. Don says:

    Guess I should have provide a link to the bracket I was talking about on CBS Sportsline.  You are correct that the viewable bracket does not provide links to the school info.   Here are the instructions to get the the page I was talking about:

    1) Go to http://www.cbssportsline.com

    2) On the home page there is a small blue box.  The headings says "Brackets".  The links in the box are:

    – Atlanta

    – Washington D.C.

    – Oakland

    – Minneapolis

    – Viewable

    – Printable

    – Women & NIT

    The ones you want to click on are the region links (Atlanta, Washington D.C, Oakland, & Minneapolis).  Select on of the regions.

    3) On the new page you will see the team for whatever region you are in.  Select a school.

    4) New page will open will school info which includes the school’s mascot.  

    To make it even easier, here are links to each region:

    http://cbs.sportsline.com/collegebasketball/mayhem/brackets/region/south

    http://cbs.sportsline.com/collegebasketball/mayhem/brackets/region/east

    http://cbs.sportsline.com/collegebasketball/mayhem/brackets/region/west

    http://cbs.sportsline.com/collegebasketball/mayhem/brackets/region/midwest

    Anyways, good luck with your bracket.  It will be interesting to see how well your method works.  Please update us when the tournament is over.

  15. Hello Raymond,

      I am a student of Syracuse University CS Dept. I think that the tooltip needs to be updated and it is badly outdated, but as soon as you enter you see the WORD CHANCELLOR CANTOR in both Orange and white with her Keynote and signed by her at the bottom. That gives enough hints about who runs the show.

      However I do agree that, the other major question as to when she was elected is totally obscured and buried under all the links and text in that page. I actually clicked Chancellors 1-11 to see if they would give me the date and it only lead to a bunch of broken links.

      So I guess that designers should not only concentrate on making the UI graphically appealing but also easily accessible for the most common operations. So how do we do that any advice for a CS Grad??

  16. oldnewthing says:

    “As soon as you enter you see…”

    Maybe you see it but I don’t. I can’t see bitmaps. Browse to that page with images off and you’ll see that it’s practically empty. Nearly everything is done with images, including the signature, and the text is white on white!

  17. asdf says:

    Your solution to this Fermi problem didn’t take into account that Oral Roberts has a 900ft tall Jesus playing for them.

  18. Mike Dunn says:

    asdf> hah :)

    I’ve never heard Berkeley get called "California" outside of a sports context. It’s always been "UC Berkeley" or "Cal Berkeley" to me.

  19. Cooney says:

    Oral Roberts has a 900ft tall Jesus playing for them.

    Take your meds, Oral!

    / did my NCAA thing based on relative records

    //don’t know jack about college basketball

    ///Actually found football interestign after someone explained how the game works

  20. Hey Raymond,

       I get what you mean. How do designers decide upon what content to put on front page and how to design the navigation system.

    Btw I think that it will be Syracuse Vs UConn or Boston College Final.

    Yours Truly,

    Sriram Ramamurthy.

  21. oldnewthing says:

    Hm the bracket I found on CBS Sportsline wasn’t clickable: http://cbs.sportsline.com/collegebasketball/mayhem/brackets/viewable_men

    Neither is the NCAA’s

    http://www.ncaasports.com/basketball/mens/brackets/viewable/2006

    Even after I got the team mascots, a search on "Texas Longhorns university" got me sites like http://www.texassports.com/ which just talks about "The University of Texas" without saying *which one* or having a link back to the school itself.

    I considered calling the schools but decided they would consider me a crackpot.

    Okay, I just called San Diego State University Office of the President to get the appointment date for President Weber (another school that doesn’t tell you when the president assumed office). After four minutes on the phone, the best they could come up with was "July 1996". And that’s his own office!

  22. George Bailey says:

    "Wouldn’t it have been easier to pick up the phone and call the universities?"

    I think the point is not what *would* have been easier, but rather what should have been easier.

  23. Adam says:

    Um, English person here. WTF is a bracket?

    Both Mirriam-Webster (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/bracket) and dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=bracket) only give meanings I’m already aware of, and none of them seem to fit whatever the hell it is you’re all talking about.

    The thing that comes closest is "a section of a continuously numbered or graded series (as age ranges or income levels)", but that doesn’t seem to quite fit, as you seem to be strictly ordering the items (teams) as opposed to putting them into pre-defined classifications.

    Also, what is the point of filling it out? Is it a betting thing? If you get it right you win something? Or what?

    /me is confused

  24. Don says:

    "I can’t see bitmaps. Browse to that page with images off and you’ll see that it’s practically empty."

    Just wondering what is your reason for turning off images in the browser?

  25. Coderjoe says:

    Don:

    Possible reasons include faster load times, less visual clutter, and cutting off adverts. Plus it reduces chances of possible attacks via image decoder bugs.

  26. Vorn says:

    Also "I’m doing this at work.  You honestly think I’d want my boss to see me looking at web pages at basketball?"

    Vorn

  27. Neil says:

    What happens if the President (or Chancellor) gets replaced during the season?

Comments are closed.