Moody’s issued a report last week warning universities of the risks associated with big-time sports and urging caution for those seeking to escalate into elite levels of competition. Focusing on institutions in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I, the report acknowledges that while big-time sports can boost brand recognition, donor support and student applications, that’s accompanied by growing “financial and reputational risks that require careful oversight.” Those risks include budgetary strain (nine in 10 athletic programs are not self-sustaining and require growing subsidies diverted from other university operations), public scrutiny when scandals hit, depleted debt capacity caused by capital investment in athletic facilities, and uncertain future costs as concussion treatment and the amateur model continue to be challenged.
In June, Moody’s downgraded the NCAA’s credit outlook to negative, citing a major lawsuit angling for athletes to be paid. “Increased public discourse about the best interest of student-athletes combined with highly publicized litigation could destabilize the current intercollegiate athletic system and negatively impact the NCAA and its member universities,” the Moody’s report said.
Some law school deans thought recent communication from U.S. News & World report indicated that the magazine's rankings were about to ignore the recommendations of the American Bar Association. It turns out that U.S. News is preserving that option, but hasn't decided what to do. At issue is one of the recommendations of a special ABA panel that last month proposed numerous changes in legal education. One of the focuses of the ABA panel was the widespread criticism that law school is too expensive and that, at many law schools, spending that forces up tuition rates may not be improving the student experience. The panel specifically cited the impact of U.S. News including spending (expenditures per student) in its methodology. "This encourages law schools to increase expenditures for purpose of affecting ranking, without reference to impact on value delivered or educational outcomes, and thus promotes continued increase in the price of law school education." The panel urged U.S. News to stop including the measure in its methodology.
As a result, some law deans were disturbed to get this year's information request from U.S. News, with the same expenditure questions as in years past. One unnamed dean wrote on the blog Brian Leiter's Law School Reports: "While the decision to rank schools according to how much they spend has always been corrosive, perverse, and misleading, it is particularly disturbing to see U.S. News continue to do so in light of the above and in light of the urgent need for law schools to hold down costs and limit expenditures in order to minimize student debt."
Robert Morse, who directs the rankings at U.S. News, via e-mail confirmed that the questions were being asked but he said it was inaccurate to say that the information will be used in the next rankings. But he said that the rankings operation "has not made a determination at this time if there will be any change in the upcoming best law schools ranking methodology."
Purdue University President Mitch Daniels has apologized for giving a speech this week at the fund-raiser for a conservative think tank in Minnesota. Daniels was the Republican governor of Indiana before becoming Purdue's president and he vowed to avoid partisan political activity in his new job. So some on campus were bothered by the appearance and an editorial in The Journal and Courier said that his Purdue role "will continue to be questioned and pulled down whenever he steps, however innocently, onto political turf." In a letter to the editor of the newspaper, Daniels stressed that the speech itself was not partisan. But he said that the editorial was correct, and that he should not have accepted the invitation, even if he didn't break any university rules in doing so. "[F]acts and rules aren’t the determining factor here. Perceptions, and understandable misperceptions, matter even more," he wrote. On reflection, this invitation should have fallen on that side of the line. I accept the validity of the criticism and will try to avoid similar judgment errors in the future."
The Modesto Junior College student who was ordered by campus security to stop handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution on Constitution Day last month is suing the Yosemite Community College District and Modesto officials in federal court. Robert Van Tuinen, an Army veteran, argues that administrators violated his First Amendment rights. In a video capturing the incident, an employee tells Van Tuinen he may only distribute his copies in the campus “free speech area,” and must also fill out the necessary paperwork before doing so. (But due to previous bookings he would have to wait at least three days.)
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is seeking the resignations of some members of the Norfolk State University board, The Virginian-Pilotreported. The requests come just weeks after the board fired Tony Atwater as president. Norfolk State faces numerous challenges, including the lowest graduation rate among public four-year institutions in Virginia and scrutiny from accreditors.
Emerson College officials pledged Wednesday to improve the process by which they handle allegations of sexual assault, The Boston Globe reported. Among other steps, college officials said they would hire an "advocate" to help victims of sexual assault through the investigation and judicial process. The announcement follows filing of a federal complaint by Emerson students saying that the college failed to adequately investigate two recent incidents.
While it is widely known that many college presidents and head football coaches receive cars in their compensation packages, 94 administrators or coaches at University of Nebraska campuses (and one coach's wife) receive cars, club memberships or both, The Omaha World-Herald reported. University officials defended the benefits as part of the process of attracting and retaining talent.
Santa Clara University has removed elective abortion from its health coverage for employees, becoming the second Roman Catholic university (with Loyola Marymount University) to be facing faculty backlash over such a decision, The San Jose Mercury News reported. University officials said that they are trying to be consistent with church teachings. But faculty members say that they object both tp the decision, and to the fact that it was made without consultation with professors. "This really makes Santa Clara University's express commitment to openness, diversity and inclusiveness ring hollow," said Nancy Unger, a history professor.