Picking ‘Naming Rights’ For Big Ten Coaches

Today’s column from CBS Chicago

TB(CBS) What’s in a name?

Forget that. What’s in a job title?

At Northwestern University, it’s $16 million bucks apparently. Last Friday, Crain’s Chicago Business columnist Danny Ecker reported that NU trustee Christopher Combe and his wife Courtney have plunked down a cool $16 mil as a gift to the school, of which $10 million will endow Athletic Director Jim Phillips’ job.

And officially rename the gig as the Chris and Courtney Combe Vice President for Athletics and Recreation. Good luck fitting that on a business card.

“We share the value Northwestern places on educating student-athletes in the classroom as well as on the athletic field,” explained Mr. Combe, whose ego has to rival his wallet in size, considering that he actually wants to have a guy’s job named after him.

To each his own, even though I personally find the whole naming-rights-for-jobs thing to be odd and even a little risky. After all, can the job’s benefactor demand someone be fired from it if they don’t like the way their name is being represented? Regardless, the phenomenon is apparently nothing new at Northwestern, which already has christened women’s lacrosse coach Kelly-Amonte Hiller’s job as the “Combe Family Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach,” while Pat Fitzgerald is the “Dan and Susan Jones Family Head Football Coach.”

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