Headline in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Presidents Favor Reining In Athletics Costs but Feel Powerless to Effect Change
The article cites a report from the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics which surveyed ninety-five presidents of colleges and universities in the NCAA’s Division I-A and found that nearly all of them felt that football and basketball coaches were overpaid, and that sports held too much sway on their campuses, but they felt powerless to do anything about it. One (unnamed) president said:
The real power doesn’t lie with the presidents. Presidents have lost their jobs over athletics. Presidents and chancellors are afraid to rock the boat with boards, benefactors, and political supporters who want to win, so they turn their focus elsewhere.
It is a sorry state of affairs.
The comments on the Chronicle article are well worth reading. I like this observation from a professor:
Fully half the athletes in my classes were absent today. None are in big-name sports. And they were not away for games. Try as we might to be open-minded, it’s a tough sell to most experienced professors that sports, other than intramurals, complement an education. Depends on the students and the coach. But bad behavior in all sports is rampant. When an athlete is too tired to do their work because of a 5 a.m. practice, then what?
And this from “raymond_j_ritchie”:
I am very glad that in Australia we have the Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra. Sporty types can run off to AIS for their education. They run round in circles, throw things, swim and of course hit and chase balls. A cattle-dog pup would love it. They do a “Sports Science” course. No comment. Nobody pretends the Institute of Sport is a university and universities shun it. Australian Pro-Football clubs do their own training and have nothing to do with universities…. Even in sport-mad Australia the notorious american experience of university sports has so far been enough for universities to refuse to get involved in pro-sports and sports scholarships.
It would be nice if we could follow the Aussies’ lead. But that would be putting the genii back in the bottle—a notoriously hard thing to do.