In an open letter to Auburn University administrators sent to TWER (and currently en route to media outlets across the southeast), Auburn alum Jim Magruder (’83), father of our own John Magruder, urges a by-all-means-necessary approach – including the threat of legal action – to maintaining the Walmart-less dignity of Auburn’s potential national championship.
January 4, 2011
An open letter to:
Dr. Jay Gogue ‘69, Ph.D, President, Auburn University
Jay Jacobs ‘85, Athletics Director, Auburn University
Bobby Poundstone ’95, President, Auburn Alumni Association
Dear fellow Auburn grads:
I presume that many of the letters you receive from alumni begin in the same fashion – by recounting how our families have been associated with Auburn University for many years. I will do the same, but very briefly. My family became an Auburn family not long after the school became Alabama A&M, and many of my family and extended family have graduated from Auburn. I graduated in 1983 with a degree in industrial engineering, and I am a proud Life Member of the Auburn Alumni Association. Auburn has been good to me, my family, my home state of Alabama, my employers, and my country, and a day never passes that I am not grateful for what Auburn has done for me and for so many other people. Because you are also Auburn alums, I know you feel the same way.
Unfortunately for Auburn University and its alumni, we are often compared to, even “lumped in with” a certain “institution” (taken in the broadest sense) in northwest Alabama due to our proximity to same. While Auburn’s record over the years certainly is not pristine, I can safely say that we are rank amateurs compared to “those people” when it comes to unethical and disgusting behavior.
So, you will understand that it was painful to learn that all of their sordid history was rewarded so richly when the University of Texas failed to roll back the Unwashed Nation last January in the Rose Bowl. While that was and still is difficult to bear, it was shocking to learn that upon arrival in Tuscaloosa, the “Unavursdi” promptly carted its national championship trophy down to a couple of local Walmart stores for display. [One need browse People Of Walmart only once to understand why Walmart isn’t a suitable venue for such an occasion.] The national news networks immediately picked up on the story, of course, and the (so-called) “University” of Alabama became a national laughing stock – one more time. I thought the LSU fan where I work would have to be hospitalized he laughed so hard. [The Bammers claimed that there was a contractual requirement to do the promotion… and yet they never sought a remedy…. go figure...]
The state of Alabama needs fewer black eyes – not more – and unfortunately, it will be many years before the “Walmart Trophy” debacle is forgotten. For the state’s sake, I pray that this pathetic scene is never repeated, by any school.
As to the purpose of my letter: I must ask you a question, and I assure you, I’m deadly serious.
I need to know that our University – upon earning a prestigious honor such as a national championship in football – would never stoop so low as to display the trophy at a Walmart store – or a truck stop, a Burger King, a Greyhound bus station, an outhouse, etc. Please PLEASE tell me that the state’s premier University would only display said trophy in the most appropriate and dignified way – not in front of piles of second-tier soft drinks, motor oil, and diapers. PLEASE tell me it will never ever happen.
Please tell me that if Auburn University wins the BCS national championship in the Fiesta Bowl Monday night, on Tuesday morning you will send a wealthy Auburn alum to Bentonville, Arkansas with this message:
“We understand that you paid a sum of money for the right to display Auburn University’s national championship trophy in a promotion at Walmart, and that you negotiated in good faith. However, on behalf of Auburn University, I am here today to tell you that will never happen – not today, not tomorrow, NOT EVER – and that we will reimburse you for your expenses to date. If you persist, you should know that you will have to sue us in open court, and that will take many months. I also remind you that possession is nine tenths of the law – and that even if you were to prevail in a lawsuit against the University, I can say with absolute certainty that our trophy will NEVER be displayed in such a fashion – not for a day, not for an hour, not for even one MINUTE.
“Now… if you will sign this release form, please… how much should I write the check for?”
So I ask you: will Auburn University trade its dignity, its pride, and its reputation for a few dollars? Are the accomplishments of this great university and its alumni so insignificant that we’re willing to be the “town idiot” on a national stage for a decade? Please tell me you will do whatever is required to prevent our alma mater from becoming a national laughing stock.
I look forward to your reply. And again, War Eagle!
James L. Magruder ’83
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