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UD in the Belly of the Beast
January 10, 2008 - 5:09am



UD leaves today for Nashville, where she joins thousands of university athletes, administrators, coaches, and fans for the annual NCAA convention -- the biggest gathering yet of this most curious and powerful organization.

Her preparation for the event confirms her sense that the NCAA oversees an immensely complicated sports landscape, and that no one outside the organization can hope to get a sense of everything it's about.

Most of what it's about -- because so much money's at stake -- is football and basketball. Especially football. The president of the University of Georgia's getting a lot of press today, for instance, because he wants the NCAA to make radical changes in the college bowl system... too much power, he says, has been given to tv networks. But the disappearance of anything university-related in big-time, insanely lucrative college football is an old story... and it's a story to which people like President Adams have long rather cynically contributed.

UD herself is particularly interested in congressional efforts to remove tax exemptions from those university sports programs, and sports booster programs, which obviously no longer have any academic dimension to them at all, and which are often so rich that they need no help from the rest of us. A combination of expensive lobbyists and good-old-boyism among DC politicians will probably maintain the exemption, but most observers perceive that it's something of an obscenity.

For UD, a distinctly unsympathetic professor, going to Nashville is entering the belly of the beast, having a chance to look more closely at what is, for her, a significant source of the corruption of academic values in American universities. She's excited at the prospect of getting at least a convention's eye-view of the NCAA -- its culture, its operations.

She's grateful to Inside Higher Ed for sending her there.

Her posts from Nashville begin today.


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