Syracuse University is currently building a new practice facility which should be completed in September of next year (Syracuse.com, 9/25/08). The name of the new building – The Carmelo Center! Now there is quite an established history of naming buildings on college campuses after famous alumni, particularly those who are willing to donate large amounts of money back to the university. I assume that Carmelo Anthony is doing just that to have his name appear on the building, and I truly believe that his intentions are genuine in helping his alma mater.
My concern is on the side of Syracuse University. What type of statement does it make about the school’s priorities in naming the building after Carmelo, an athlete who never had any intention of staying and graduating from the school? I know that collegiate athletics is big business, and that every school’s athletic department needs to walk that fine line between pursuit of athletic success and maintaining a high level of academic integrity. But to me, featuring an alumnus (actually, is he even considered an alumnus?) whose only purpose at the university was athletics, is sending the wrong public message. I’m curious to know what the Syracuse faculty and alumni think of this. I guess the ones who follow college basketball won’t mind, but the Dean of the English department might object.