News and Commentary

UPDATE: Two Years After Embracing Racial Protests, Mizzou Football Is A Dumpster Fire

When the Mizzou football team vowed to quit all football-related activities in November 2015 until the university system president was removed or resigned, The New York Times cheered the players for “lending heft” to the racial activists’ cause. Two years later, the Times had to admit that all the campus hysteria and the administration’s decision to cave to it turned out to be exactly what many predicted it would be: an absolute “disaster” for the university. Over the next two years, freshmen enrollment dropped a stunning 35%, forcing the school to shut down seven dorms and lay off over 400 employees. As for the football team, which saw millions in donations disappear overnight, well, it’s now a full-fledged dumpster fire.

Following a brutal 2016 season, the Mizzou Tigers have started off 2017 by getting torched by three of their four opponents. Mizzou’s only win so far is over the miserable Missouri State Bears (which is also currently 1-3). Against the three Power Five conference teams they’ve played so far, the Tigers have been outscored by a total of 81 points. They lost 31-13 to middling South Carolina, were hammered 35-3 by mediocre Purdue, and were annihilated 51-14 by an offensively-challenged Auburn.

In the 2016, the year after letting the racial protests eclipse football, Mizzou had an abysmal season. They didn’t even come close to getting a bowl berth, going just 4 and 8 and winning a grand total of two SEC games. Their only other two wins came against Delaware State and Eastern Michigan.

As the once cheerleading Times was forced to acknowledge in July, the university that really got the campus racial protest movement going is now a lesson in what happens when an administration allows social justice activists to lay siege to an institution.

In the fall of 2015, a grassy quadrangle at the center of the University of Missouri became known nationwide as the command center of an escalating protest.

Students complaining of official inaction in the face of racial bigotry joined forces with a graduate student on a hunger strike. Within weeks, with the aid of the football team, they had forced the university system president and the campus chancellor to resign.

It was a moment of triumph for the protesting students. But it has been a disaster for the university.

While the Tigers’ failing football team might be one of the more glaring of the consequences, the real story is the 180-degree reversal of the university’s once upward trend. The 35% decrease in freshmen enrollment over the last two years is even more devastating in light of the growth the university was experiencing before the protests. And the administration itself has been forced to admit that the fallout from the campus hysteria is what’s driving their decline.

“The university administration acknowledges that the main reason [for the sharp decline in enrollment] is a backlash from the events of 2015, as the campus has been shunned by students and families put off by, depending on their viewpoint, a culture of racism or one where protesters run amok,” the Times reports.

“The general consensus was that it was because of the aftermath of what happened in November 2015,” admitted the new system president Mun Choi. “There were students from both in state and out of state that just did not apply, or those who did apply but decided not to attend.”

Mizzou proved to be the flashpoint of what would become a wave of racial protests sweeping campuses over the next few months and years, with social justice activists emboldened by Mizzou’s president and chancellor resigning amid unfounded accusations of “racism” and “insensitivity.” And while the administration bent over backwards to appease the protesters, enrollment numbers show that the biggest decline came among minorities:

Students of all races have shunned Missouri, but the drop in freshman enrollment last fall was strikingly higher among blacks, at 42%, than among whites, at 21%. (A racial breakdown was not yet available for this fall’s freshman class.)

Black students were already a small minority. They made up 10% of the freshman class in 2012, a proportion that fell to just 6% last fall.

Meanwhile, the seven dorms the university can no longer fill with students are now being converted into makeshift hotel rooms for the fans still willing to show up to the games. “We had a total loss of about $5 million, so you’re talking zero (dollars) if we do nothing versus $60,000 (three games in) — of course it’s worth it,” said Mizzou spokesman Christian Basi about the dorm room rental program. But if the team keeps playing like it has over the last two seasons, the school shouldn’t get its hopes up about making much off of that desperate venture.

While Mizzou suffers for its handling of social justice activists, the NFL has now fully embraced the national anthem protest “movement.” Will the league fare like the Tigers? Declining ratings and recent polls on the issue suggest it just might.