At UM, the future is in cherry wood lockers 

The University of Montana is spending the summer getting its priorities in order. And what better way to signal that the school cares deeply about its liberal arts and sciences mission than unveiling a fleet of brand-new, state-of-the-art lockers for football players?

The Washington-Grizzly Champions Center is set to open this fall, and within its hallowed walls will be installed 112 cherry wood lockers outfitted with ventilation systems and USB chargers. In a video posted to the Montana Grizzlies Facebook page, equipment operations director Robert Stack excitedly describes every feature—the stainless steel accents, the "battle gear" bar for pads, the extra cubby for personal effects—over a blaring trap beat.

It certainly is an exciting time to be a Griz player, but even non-football players should be proud. After all, our team—so good at winning games that they must decide to lose a bunch just to keep us fans on our toes—is the heart and soul of the university. Critics may balk at the bad optics of parading such luxury in the face of program cuts and rising tuition, but those people are spoilsports who probably majored in English.

For the record, it appears that UM didn't even choose the most lavish lockers available. According to ESPN, the University of Texas Longhorns recently acquired brand-new lockers at $10,500 a pop from the same company that produced UM's. UT's lockers feature 43-inch TV monitors where you'd normally find player nameplates. The healthy dose of adversity inflicted by that lack of screen space should keep UM's players humble and ambitious in the hope they might one day graduate to the locker-room big leagues. (The same company designed the Dallas Cowboys' lockers in Texas Stadium. You don't even want to know about those).

Appropriately, no state money went into UM's locker spree or the Champions Center. The $14 million building is being funded with a $7 million donation from Kyle and Kevin Washington—sons of Dennis and Phyllis—and other private funds. So all you football haters can take your criticism elsewhere. The donors know that UM's future as a viable flagship of higher education in Montana resides not in a "robust liberal arts education" or "reasonable class sizes" or even "enough space for students to park their cars." It's in keeping "student athletes" comfy.

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