I read the March 11 Gene Sapakoff piece, “Citadel hoops hire must be different,” and felt that Gene overlooked the elephant in the room, which is attracting and keeping talent. Recruiting at The Citadel has to be a challenging task.

I read about a baseball recruit who was highly regarded and on the list of all the SoCon teams. The first off his list? The Citadel. Why? In the recruits words, “Because I don’t want to shave my head.” A talented athlete who is willing to at least endure if not embrace the military lifestyle is a rare combination.

Further complicating the process are cadets who could be great contributors but disregard the honor code. The life of a college athlete is just academics and practice; add to that the rigors of shining brass, formations, parades and inspections and it’s “Hello, Western Carolina.”

How about some budget help? The S.C. Legislature has cut funding from $17.2 million in 2003 to $10.8 million in 2013. They can come up with a million dollars to endow a Citadel chair for Mayor Joe Riley (I’m a big fan, by the way), but can’t find a way to better fund one of the most historic post-secondary institutions in the country?

Thirty-five percent of Citadel graduates serve their country in the armed services. Is there a way to help athletes who want to serve move higher in the officer selection process?

Until recently athletes at The Citadel had access to a separate mess hall. By no means is it what their peers at other schools experience, but it’s a big deal at El Cid. Instead of reducing the benefit to athletes, why not open the upstairs mess to academic achievers as well? Rewards are good. It pays to be a winner.

The Citadel is different in that athletics are, at best, fifth on the list of priorities behind duty, honor, respect and academics. As a community we can help The Citadel receive and maintain the recognition it deserves as an institution of higher education and a place where the ethics and leadership of its students have stood apart for 173 years. Tour the campus, attend a game, watch a parade. Feel the pride.

Dennis Grady

Parkers Landing Road

Mount Pleasant