It looks like a monolith carved from mortar and molded of chrome, a giant spaceship in the middle of the UNLV campus.
The Lied Library opened in 2001 at a cost of $55.3 million. It is five stories tall, comprises 302,000 square feet. Contained within it and its branches are more than a million books and volumes.
Online and print journals, microfilm, DVDs, computer monitors. The Lied has it all for studying and improving one’s grades. Especially computer monitors. They’re all over the place, on every floor.
I’m told that if you had to brush up on the Louisiana Purchase for whatever reason, the Lied Library in the middle of the UNLV campus would be an ideal place to do it, especially now that Borders bookstores have gone belly up.
But like the UNLV football team — or at least 4 percent of it, if one believes the news conference repartee — I never had been to the Lied Library.
The UNLV football team on Thursday was fitted for the NCAA dunce cap, for compiling an Academic Progress Rate that was a tad too low.
A tad might as well have been a country mile.
The NCAA gives not one whit about tads or by how little you missed when it comes to APR, mostly because the NCAA insists on referring to players as student-athletes and not the other way around. And not paying them.
It sounds good on TV when Jim Nantz refers to the Kentucky and Connecticut basketball players as student-athletes, and it plays well on those commercials at halftime that extol the academic virtues of the two teams, which is the only time you ever see the chemistry lab.
Anyway, UNLV’s appeal of a postseason ban was denied, and so now UNLV joins the likes of Alabama State, Hampton, Mississippi Valley State, North Carolina A&T, Savannah State and Texas Southern.
These are the only football-playing schools to have been banned from the postseason for subpar APR. It isn’t easy to be banned for subpar APR.
UNLV somehow managed to do it.
At first it tried to blame Mike Sanford; then it blamed 4 percent of the football team. And so now the other 96 percent must suffer.
Is that fair? Perhaps not. After all, this is the NCAA making the rules.
But think back to when you were in high school. In high school when one kid messed up, all the kids ran wind sprints.
Was that fair? Perhaps not. But the coaches said it builds character when everybody runs.
So even should the UNLV football team continue to improve — or should the Mountain West continue to get worse — the Rebels won’t be returning to the Argyle Sock Bowl, or wherever.
Four percent messes up. Everybody runs.
Only now the athletic department says it will spend another $250,000 on a football program that lost $4.5 million in fiscal year 2013 — four times more than any other UNLV men’s sport — for a football study hall.
(When the numbers for fiscal year 2014 come in, they’ll be even redder in football, because ticket revenues for fiscal year 2014 were less than in those fiscal years when the Rebels were 2-10, if you can believe it.)
That’s why I went to the Lied Library on Saturday. You can walk to it in two minutes from the football practice field, which is where I parked.
I figured there must be something inherently or structurally wrong with the library, or why would anybody think it necessary to spend another quarter-million dollars on a football study hall?
There was nothing wrong with the library that I could see.
It was as monolithic as advertised — they even have one of those Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf latte shops on the ground floor — and the young women behind the information desk were helpful.
One said she rarely sees football players in the library, only basketball players. This might be because basketball players are tall and thus more conspicuous. It also could explain why the UNLV basketball team had a perfect APR score a couple of years ago, and why the football team is now banned from the Argyle Sock Bowl.
And, yes, there were computer terminals all over the place, on every floor.
There will be 18 more in the new football study hall, I’m told.
There’s a trend in college sports to build these facilities that are luxuries, rather than necessities, mostly because 2.5-star recruits are impressed by them during campus visits, and also because Ohio State has them.
One could argue that these study halls and tutors and 18 additional laptop computers must be worth it, because the Ohio State football team never has been banned from a bowl game for subpar APR.
The Buckeyes did, however, receive a one-year wrist slap when it was learned players had traded game jerseys for tattoos.
There’s a Diversity tattoo shop on Maryland Parkway, right across the street from the UNLV campus. Let’s hope the athletic department doesn’t feel the need to spend money on one of those, too.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.