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An Open Letter to Jo Ann Gora and Tom Collins

In recent weeks, and especially after the negotiations between Coach Brady Hoke and other schools, there were quite a few folks filled with murderous rage displeased with how the administration at Ball State University handled the financial aspects of keeping Coach Hoke and his assistants. OTP remained neutral and teetered on the side of supporting the administration (President Jo Ann Gora and Athletic Director Tom Collins) giving them the opportunity to impress us before immediately tossing them both under the bus before the end of the Hoke saga played out.

As it stands now, Hoke has left for greener pastures (reportedly 3.5 million greener pastures for 5 years) and it is time for some answers as to how this administration views this program. It is time for them both to hear from fans of the school, former players, and supporters (financially and otherwise) as to the extreme displeasure with their handling, treatment, and disrespect of a Ball State alum and winning football coach. What follows is an open letter sent this morning to Jo Ann Gora and Tom Collins. I encourage you, if you so agree, to undersign in the comments with your own thoughts if you feel the need. Should you wish to email Dr. Gora and Mr. Collins personally, you can do so at jgora@bsu.edu and tjcollins@bsu.edu

Dr. Gora & Mr. Collins,

I write to you today on behalf of Cardinal Nation and readers of OverThePylon.blogspot.com, a site covering the Cardinals, and ask for help in understanding how this day ever came to pass. I write with the hopes that either of you can tell me, and our readers, why Coach Hoke was ever allowed to get away. I write with the hopes that you can tell me that every effort was made to retain Coach Hoke, increase the quality of life for his assistants, and improve the facilities that the coaches utilize in preparing the student athletes for practice and games. I write to you optimistic that either of you can tell me that there was a good faith effort made to reward a Ball State alum and the man who coached this team to a 12-1 record this season and two consecutive Bowl bids. I write to you optimistic that either of you can tell me that there was a good faith effort made to reward the assistant coaches who are some of the lowest paid coaches in the MidAmerican Conference. I write to you optimistic that you can tell me there was a good faith effort to actually build offices for these coaches. I am optimistic that all these things were done, because were they not, I would have to say it was the biggest failure of an administration in Ball State history. These are bare minimum things that could have been achieved to continue the success of the Cardinals on and off the field, and to hear that they were unable to be achieved is simply unacceptable.

I understand that Ball State cannot compete with a BCS conference school, though that is a debate for another day and time, but to lose Coach Hoke to another midmajor program is totally and completely unacceptable. It is a failure of the highest order, a dereliction of both of your duties, and inexcusable. As fans who have supported this program for years, who have played for and supported the Cardinals, I, and my readers, demand answers as to how this man and his assistant coaches were not worthy of more than a standard 3% pay increase. I, and my readers, demand answers as to how this man and his assistant coaches were expected to compete for conference titles and national attention when they do not even have offices in the football complex. I, and my readers, demand answers as to how this program is expected to improve when administrators like you both refuse to allow it to grow, succeed, and improve.

Perhaps it’s because neither of you have any ties to this program, this school, or this area. Maybe that’s why you don’t understand the fans, the students, or the alumni of MY institution. I refuse to even say “our” because neither of you have shown any sort of want, desire, or passion for MY institution to succeed unless it somehow benefited your resume. So since you seem to not care about the people who essentially support this school, I’ll tell you a bit about them… this is a fanbase that was motivated, energized, and passionate about football and athletics in general for the first time in years. After the fiasco of Ronny Thompson (hired under both your watchful eyes, I might add) the athletic program at MY university was looked at as small time. A joke. A program that would never get better because no one in the administration “got it”. Coach Hoke changed that with his performance on the field. He didn’t change the image through fancy billboards or television commercials, though one could argue his four hour commercials on ESPN once a week were fairly good exposure for the school.

I am well aware that Ball State is not Auburn. I am well aware we cannot afford millions of dollars in coaches’ salaries or tens of millions of dollars worth of stadium upgrades. But even with that qualifier, our facilities are substandard, our coaches underpaid, and our administration seems hesitant to allow anyone to succeed. I ask you both, do you think a winning program on the current budget (nearly last in the NCAA FBS division) is possible? If so, why hasn’t it happened? If not, why are we even fielding athletics in the first place?

Because of the inability by both of you to retain a true “Ball Stater”, I have to ask myself if continued support of this program and university, financially (since whether or not I am a donor, and I am, influences your reaction) and otherwise, is truly a wise use of resources. I am proud of MY university, proud of Coach Hoke, but ashamed of the job both of you did. I am embarrassed that you chose to not only let this man get away but negotiated far below your capabilities and far below what he was asking for in an effort to make yourselves look better in the process. It is a disgrace. It is yet another example of not understanding the true capabilities of Ball State University, the student athletes, and the alumni who support the school, and in doing so, allow both of you to remain gainfully employed.

The “efforts” made to retain Coach Hoke and his assistants were a slap in the face to him and to the fans and athletes. It reeks of small-time thinking, and a lack of commitment from the administration to build a winning program in Muncie. If you do not think it is possible, I beg both of you to hire people who do and let them run the program from hiring to fund raising, etc. A winner is possible, but not through the methods both of you utilize to “manage” a program. It is a failure, and one that is inexcusable.

I await your responses to the questions I have posed.

Sincerely yours,
Alan M. Rucker
BSU BS02, MA03

8 Responses

  1. Agreed.

    – BSU 2002

  2. This administration failed us all.

    – BSU alum 1995, CVC member, BSU Bold Donor

  3. BSUMike – BSU alum 2006

  4. Moving up is one thing. Moving laterally is another. Hoke went where he was valued, and he’s totally justified in doing so.

    The fact that the administration lost him to another mid-major is beyond unacceptable. Those responsible, including but not limited to Mr. Collins and Dr. Gora, need to be held accountable for the good possibility of a backslide in our program.

    There didn’t even seem to be much of a negotiation at all with this. If you’ll notice, Hoke interviewed just last week, which meant he took little time to weigh the options.

    If you are displeased about this news, please don’t go unheard. Contact Gora and Collins, and don’t hesitate to contact the board of trustees while you’re at it. And see if we can get the old Charlie Cardinal back while you’re at it.

    BS02, MA03

  5. Dr. Gora,

    Can you call someone over at Akron to send JD Brookhart to San Diego too? However, he is a coach that actually does suck.


  6. While I love the tone of the article, I also hope you’re not sincerely shocked by the moves of the administration.

    Ball State has long been a stepping stone for its Presidents and higher ups; make some waves, make some “change” (whether they’re good or bad is largely irrelevant), and move on to greener pastures. Gora is probably no worse than previous Presidents, but her lack of tact and selfish motivations are obviously more transparent.

    The sad fact is, Ball State just refuses to step up in this regard and fund our athletic programs. I know from first hand experience, too. I spent two years working with our athletes in weight rooms that were consistently sub-par when compared to comparable MAC schools.

    I agree it’s a disservice to the school, the alumni, and other BSU supporters to let Coach Hoke go. I was more excited for BSU football this year than at any time when I actually attended the school! Unfortunately, until the school finds an administration this is serious about supporting our student-athletes, the coaches and facilities they utilize, I fear we’re destined to be nothing better than a below-average athletic program.

    MR, BSU Alumni 2000

  7. You are both a joke. Think small and have a losers attitude. I am a
    1985 graduate and was so PROUD of our team. In fact, I live in New Jersey and alot of people didn’t know of Ball State Football UNTIL
    this year. Coach Hoke, Coach Parrish, Nate Davis, McQaule Lewis
    and the Ball State Football team brought national attention to MY University.If you had ANY sense of reality-you would realize SPORTS brings recognition to the University. You both make me sick and should be fired. PLEASE RESIGN

    By the Way- the 200 Million Fund raising job for education, etc. Why NOT use some of the $$$$$ for upgrading the Stadium and paying the coaches more than you Mrs. Tramp Gora. Your ego also makes me sick.

    Good luck Brady!

    Good luck Nate in the NFL!

    Jo Ann Gora and Tom Collins your both small time jokes.

  8. I have always had pride in my alma mater. I have always went to a couple of home football games per year as well as mens basketball games since graduating (97).
    I only missed one home football game this season.
    This year has been something very special. I have ate, breathed and slept BSU football all season. I can safely say that right now I am ashamed of the administraion of my alma mater. How can San Diego State afford coach Hoke over BSU, HIS ALMA MATER!!!!!!!!
    San Diego State? If they can offer Hoke that much money, we should be able to offer more.
    I agree, Dr Gora and Tom Collins only think of BSU as a mark on there resumes as they wait for a job at a bigger university. BSU does not need people like that. Let’s fire them both and hire some BSU alums even if they are not as “qualified” (not sure how those two jokers are qualified to begin with), but they would approach the jobs with passion, passion for your alma mater.

    Good Luck Coach Hoke. I will always root for you (except if you ever play your alma mater!)

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