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Universities Under the Influence
June 18, 2007 - 6:21am



With her interest in the grotesqueries of bigtime university sports, UD has read tons of reports from tons of influential organizations about how to reform them. The Knight Commission is particularly fond of glossy publications packed with great ideas about academic integrity, financial accountability, and how to attract non-felonious people to your team.

Today's IHE links to the most recent of these reports, from a faculty group, the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics. IHE summarizes:

[M]any of the recommendations [call] for an enhanced role for professors in overseeing sports programs. The Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics is calling for the creation of a Campus Athletic Board at each campus, a majority of whose members would be tenured professors selected through faculty governance structures. This board would have to be consulted on all major athletics decisions, including the hiring of key officials, changes in the number of sports offered, and adding significant facilities. Other recommendations are designed to assure the primacy of academic values. For example, one recommendation is that admissions standards should be the same for all students, regardless of whether they are athletes, and that athletes “should be admitted based on their potential for academic success and not primarily on their athletic contribution.”

Well, UD'll read it... She reads all of these things... But listen. People like to say that the epicenter of power at American universities is the faculty, and in some ways this is true. But anyone aware of the money and power of bigtime athletics -- not just the money and power... the huge grip bigtime athletics has on the imagination of these institutions, the way it just is Oklahoma State or whatever, and indeed the way it reaches into the communities surrounding these schools, knows that no bunch of faculty members (many of whom will evolve into tools rather than monitors of their school's teams) is going to be able to do what this latest report wants them to do.

Serious reform of bigtime athletics is impossible as long as television exists. We'll have to wait until the sun implodes.



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