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Firing OK with students

By Greg Holt
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday September 30, 2003

Those students who shouted, "Fire Mackovic," at the football games had their wishes granted after Livengood announced former coach John Mackovic's dismissal at a press conference on Sunday.

But now that the deed has been done, students are saying that the team needs to get better before they begin to fill the stands again.

"It wouldn't change whether I go to the game. It doesn't seem like anyone's going now," said Tim Arbon, a studio art junior. "I think they were impatient, and I don't necessarily think it will solve the problems the team had on the field."

John Mackovic's buyout package:

· The $909,000 buyout of former UA head football coach John Mackovic's contract will come from revenues generated solely by the UA department of intercollegiate athletics (ICA). The buyout includes zero state or tuition money.
· Former head football coach Dick Tomey's buyout was also paid solely by ICA, with the final payment occurring in Jan. 2003.

Sean Smallman, a theater production junior, said that axing Mackovic will draw more fans only if it leads to a turnaround in team performance.

"If we start winning, it'll make anyone more likely to go to the game. It kinda sucks when your team is losing so badly," said Smallman, who is also a resident assistant in Cochise Residence Hall.

"I'm an RA, so I know the guys in my hall were thrilled to see him leave," he said.

For those less than infatuated with the Wildcat football team, the only thing that's important is whether or not the team is winning.

Lukas Westendorf, a pre-pharmacy sophomore, said that Mackovic's absence doesn't matter, only winning does.

"I don't really care that much because I don't care that much about football," said Westendorf. "Him getting fired wouldn't change my mind about going to the game. It's about how the team is doing, not who the coach is."

"Whoever they get as the new coach, that's probably going to determine how well the team does," Westendorf added.

Jered Mansell an economics, sociology, political science and religious studies senior; and former Associated Students of Arizona administrative vice president said the fans shouldn't have been so quick to judge Mackovic.

"I think it's easy for a sports fan to use him as a scapegoat," Mansell said. "I go to the games to see the team, not Mackovic coaching."

Other students said that letting all the blame fall on Mackovic would ignore other possible causes for the team's losing streak.

"He's the second coach in five years, so it's obviously more than just the coach. You need to have a team who works together. I think they should learn some lessons from Lute Olson and his team," said Starla Woods, a political science and anthropology senior.

Yet to others, Mackovic's dismissal seems to be a result of more than just the team's dismal record.

"I heard there were other problems between staff and players. I heard that the head coach spoke violently to the players," said Saemin Chang, a graduate student in chemistry.

Last year 40 players met with President Peter Likins to complain about Mackovic. The next day, Mackovic held a press conference and said in response to verbal altercations with players, "I have failed to live up to my own standards."

Although he's not a student, Joe Gutierrez is a Wildcats football fan who said he thinks the decision to remove Mackovic was a mistake.

"I think it's unfair to get rid of him in the middle of the season," Gutierrez said. "If his track record outweighs his recent losses, then it might be politics."

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