NCAA Chief Warns Colleges on Academics

November 16, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS -- It is the job of universities with big-time sports programs -- not the National Collegiate Athletic Association -- to ensure that athletes are taking real courses and earning high-quality degrees, the NCAA's president told a roomful of public university presidents and other administrators Sunday.

Mark Emmert, the association's president, said that significant increases in the academic preparation of freshmen at many colleges and universities have put athletes -- whose academic profile has changed little -- at a growing disadvantage, creating a "mismatch" on "a lot of campuses." Athletes are competing in the classroom with ever-stronger students while spending "spectacular amounts of time" on their sports. That tension makes it incumbent on institutional leaders to ensure that "we are not cheating young men and women by not providing them academic programs of high quality," Emmert said.

"It's not the role of a national athletic association to say what an English course has to be to have integrity," he said. "Some people somehow think the NCAA ought to be able to walk onto campus" and play that role. "But that’s your job; you have to make sure you’re doing it."

Emmert's comments come at a time when the NCAA is preparing to increase its eligibility standards for athletes, and amid a rash of academic scandals that some attribute to the pressure on colleges to keep academically underprepared athletes eligible.

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