Editorial: Tulane’s Dickson deserves more

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 27:  Athletic Director Rick Dickson speaks with reporters after Tulane accepted an invitation to the Big East Conference during a press conference at Tulane University on November 27, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 27: Athletic Director Rick Dickson speaks with reporters after Tulane accepted an invitation to the Big East Conference during a press conference at Tulane University on November 27, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – The news release from Tulane University raised some eyebrows.

Among those to be inducted into the school’s athletics hall of fame is former Director of Athletics Rick Dickson.

But his induction comes with a caveat. Dickson will be honored with the Billy Slatten Award. The award was named for one of Tulane athletics’ greatest friends and donors.

My take? Rick Dickson shouldn’t be placed in a category with broadcasters, statisticians and sportswriters.

Former Tulane play by play man Bruce Miller, longtime statistician and historian Gayle Letulle, and former Tulane beat writer George Sweeney were all honored with this award. And deservedly so.

All worked diligently for the school. They loved Tulane University’s Green Wave and worked tirelessly to make a contribution.

So did Rick Dickson.

But he deserves better.

Dickson deserved an up or down vote as a true member of the Hall of Fame. Lumping a former director of athletics with contributors like the three gentlemen above is an error, period.

Dickson’s many detractors will point to the program’s lack of success on the field during his tenure.

And they are right.

But  it is, has, and always will be my take that at a private school, the president is the one who sets the tone.

Former President Scott Cowen was a very powerful figure at Tulane University. And he definitely had an athletic philosophy. Cowen believed in having athletics, to a point.

But he would never spend extravagantly on athletics. It was never going to happen. And Dickson took his marching orders from Cowen.

So did Sandy Barbour. When Cowen told Barbour he preferred to hire Chris Scelfo as football coach at the end of the 1998 season, Rich Rodriguez, offensive architect of an 11-0 regular season, was out.

The boss had spoken.

Rick Dickson did some good things as the director of athletics at Tulane.

In 2003, when Cowen instituted a silly “athletics review,” Dickson worked behind the scenes, tirelessly, to save the program.

Same thing after Katrina in 2005, when the school shut down for a semester.

There’s no question under a new president, Michael Fitts, that spending on athletics has increased dramatically.

New AD Troy Dannen was given the dollars to hire new football coach Willie Fritz and new men’s basketball coach Mike Dunleavy.

Rick Dickson never had such a luxury.

So whether you believe he should be in the Hall of Fame or not be in the Hall of Fame, that’s your opinion.

But the Billy Slatten Award shouldn’t go to such a prominent, integral figure in athletics at Tulane.

Rick Dickson was bigger than that.