DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY
THE COALITION ON INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS
October 30, 2003
Dear Big-12 Colleagues:
The AAUP Governance Conference in Indianapolis earlier this month was
devoted to intercollegiate athletics reform. The Coalition on Intercollegiate
Athletics (COIA) took part in the conference, where representatives
of more than fifty schools participated in our work-sessions. This
letter is in response to those discussions.
The COIA was formed last year through the cooperative efforts of
over fifty faculty senate leaders from NCAA Division I-A schools;
that faculty leadership at all Division I-A schools will become participants.
The Coalition is one of several groups working together for long-range,
comprehensive reforms in intercollegiate athletics. In particular,
it seeks to represent the faculty voice in the national debate over
future of college sports. Its goals are set forth in its “Framework
for Comprehensive Athletics Reform.” This document and further
information about the Coalition are available on our website (note
the new URL):
The Coalition works with the leadership of other stakeholder
groups interested in athletics reform, including the NCAA,
the AGB (Association of Governing
Boards, representing trustees and regents), and the AAUP.
All these groups took part in the Indianapolis conference.
One result of our discussions
is an improved Framework document, attached to this letter.
Note that in response to Coalition feedback, a provision
calling for the restriction
of sports seasons to a single academic term has been
removed. The Framework is a working document, open to such
revisions by the Coalition membership.
It is our hope that each faculty/university senate/council in Division
I-A will pass a resolution endorsing the Framework during the current
academic year. As the Framework itself indicates, senate endorsement
does not imply acceptance of the Framework in all its details. Local
circumstances vary, and a senate may need to modify it in certain respects.
We appreciate feedback about any such adaptations. A number of faculty
senates have endorsed the Framework this term; their support has strengthened
our ability to engage other stakeholder groups.
Senate leadership typically changes every year. In addition to endorsement
of the Framework, therefore, we ask you to designate a faculty member
as an ongoing liaison to the Coalition, and advise us of his or her e-mail
Member institutions will be consulted about and kept
informed of Coalition reform initiatives, including “best-practices” recommendations.
Two best-practices documents were forged in our work-sessions
in Indianapolis, both dealing with governance structures
oversight of athletics.
They will be circulated soon, and senates are urged to
consider their adaptability to the local situation.
The COIA Steering Committee:
Bob Eno, past Senate President, Indiana Univ., Bloomington (co-chair)
Jim Earl, past Senate President, Univ. of Oregon (co-chair)
Joel Cohen, Senate Chair, Univ. of Maryland
Phil DiStefano, Faculty Athletics Rep., Univ. of Colorado, Boulder
Gary Engstrand, Secretary to the Faculty, Univ. of Minnesota
Michael Granof, past Faculty Council Chair, Univ. of Texas
Ed Lawry, Faculty Council Chair, Oklahoma St. Univ.
John Nicols, past Senate Chair, Penn. State Univ.
Curt Rom, Senate Chair, Univ. of Arkansas
Ginny Shepherd, past Senate Chair, Vanderbilt Univ.
Kathleen Smith, Faculty Athletics Rep., Duke Univ.
Mike Wasylenko, Faculty Athletics Rep., Syracuse Univ.
DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY
Coalition On Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA), August 2003
Reform of intercollegiate athletics is an urgent priority. Successful reform
will require a broad consensus and a comprehensive approach. Some issues may
be resolved quickly, others may require much more time, but national agreement
on a comprehensive plan in the near future is essential to accomplish meaningful
reform; the piecemeal approach has not succeeded. The COIA Framework, aimed at
Division I-A, outlines essential features such a plan should include, and calls
for the NCAA and national academic constituencies to develop detailed, appropriately
flexible strategies for implementation. The goal of reform is not negative; it
is to bring out the positive aspects of intercollegiate athletics, which contribute
to the personal development of athletes and enhance college life on campus and
Academic Integrity. Colleges should admit only students with realistic prospects
of graduation. Admissions practices should confirm that high schools must prepare
athletes to meet such standards. Continuing eligibility standards should ensure
that only academically engaged students compete in athletics. Faculty must take
responsibility to ensure academic integrity in all programs. Athletics advisors
must be closely integrated with academic advising to ensure prioritization of
academic goals and integrity.
Athlete Welfare. The design and enforcement of limits on athlete participation
in non-academic activities must be improved; assessment of coaches must reflect
commitment to athletes’ academic opportunities. Optimal season schedules
for each sport should be designed and adopted, limiting competition in each
sport to a single term. The terms and bases of scholarships should be reexamined
as to support student academics, and athletes should be fully integrated into
Governance. Shared oversight of athletics between governing boards, administrations,
and faculty should involve clear communication and complementary responsibilities.
Best-practice designs for the interaction of faculty athletics representatives,
campus athletics committees, and faculty governance should be designed nationally,
and adapted locally. Uniform reporting standards for athletics budgets should
be established, to provide more financial transparency. Stable athletics conferences
should support the linkage of athletics and academics, and become the basis for
intercollegiate relationships beyond athletics competitions and finances.
Finances. The link between winning and financial solvency undermines the values
of college sports and contributes to the athletics arms race. Broadened revenue
sharing, and limits on budgets and capital expenditures should be implemented.
Amateur goals appropriate to each sport should determine standards of expectations.
Cost cutting in the areas of scholarships, squad size, season length, and recruitment
should be explored.
Over-commercialization. Excesses in marketing college sports impair institutional
control and contribute to public misperception of the nature and purpose of higher
education. Schools must step back from over-commercialization by cutting costs
and setting clear standards of institutional control and public presentation
of college sports.
DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY
A Framework for Comprehensive Athletics Reform
Recommended by the COIA Steering Committee, October 2003
The need for reform of intercollegiate athletics is serious an?d requires
immediate action. The problems are not new, but they are worsening. During
the 1990s, universities and the NCAA responded to the 1989 Knight Commission
report, yet in 2000 the Commission concluded that intercollegiate athletics
was more troubled than ever. The Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics
(COIA), a national network of Division I-A faculty leaders, believes
that reform requires a comprehensive approach that addresses five issues:
(1) academic integrity, (2) athlete welfare, (3) governance of athletics
at the school and conference level, (4) finances, and (5) commercialization.
Some of these issues may be resolved quickly, but others may require
as much as a decade. With a comprehensive plan, however, we can avoid
the ineffectiveness of the piecemeal approach of the 1990s. The present
document reflects a consensus within the COIA; not every faculty leader
associated with the Coalition will agree with all points. It is our hope
that in conversation with other groups and individuals-such as the NCAA,
the Association of Governing Boards (AGB), the AAUP, and university presidents-it
can contribute to a plan of action for the coming decade. The Coalition
encourages efforts to compile and analyze relevant data, and remains
open to rethinking its positions as information becomes available.
There is wide diversity among college sports. While some issues may be of general
concern, others may pertain very differently to team and individual sports, or
to sports where the highest levels of competition are professional or amateur.
A document as brief as this cannot attempt comprehensiveness. The process of
reform we envision would appropriately adapt to each sport the general approaches
we advocate. While some aspects of reform can and should be carried out immediately,
others may involve complex solutions and significant lead time. The goal of the
Coalition is to work with all groups over the next two years to develop a comprehensive
plan that can be practically implemented as a series of scheduled steps.
The goal of reform is not negative; it is to bring out the positive aspects of
intercollegiate athletics, which contributes to the personal development of athletes,
connects schools to their alumni and communities, and enhances life on campus
|Issues of Academic Integrity
||Initial eligibility and admissions. In
football and men's basketball especially, many athletes are
academically under-prepared, and have such heavy commitments
to sports that they have little or no prospect of graduation.
Students should not be enrolled if they do not have reasonable
prospects of graduation. The Coalition supports the NCAA's
initiative to raise initial eligibility standards through strengthening
core course requirements, and supports the proposal to increase
this requirement to 16 courses within five years. The NCAA's
sliding scale of GPA and SAT/ACT scores has significantly increased
reliance on high school grades. Universities should be required
to inform high schools of the academic success rates of their
graduates by sport, so that they can assess whether graduating
athletes are really prepared to succeed academically. Admissions
decisions regarding athletes with scores below institutional
standards should involve academic review procedures no less
rigorous than apply to other types of students; faculty review
|| Continuing eligibility. The COIA
supports the NCAA's recent strengthening of continuing eligibility
standards, and its incentives/disincentives proposal. Exceptional
cases may occur with regard to both GPA and progress-towards-degree
requirements; appeals in such cases should involve faculty
and NCAA review.
||Grading and program integrity. At
some schools athletes are given preferential treatment to
||ensure continuing eligibility, either through academically
unchallenging programs or differential grading practices. Such
practices can only be addressed at the institutional level. Faculty
at all schools should be provided with data concerning the majors
and academic performance of all athletes, disaggregated to the
highest degree permitted by law and distinguished by sport; procedures
should be developed that allow faculty to determine there are
no pressures to lower academic standards, and that permit abuses
to be easily reported.
||Academic advising and related services. Because athletes have
such heavy burdens on their time, schools typically provide them
enhanced support. Advising programs supervised through the Athletics
Departments are a common source of academic violations. COIA
recommends that Athletics Department advisors be appointed in
the regular campus advising system, report through the academic
advising structure, and be assessed by an academic-side review.
|Issues of Athlete Welfare
||The 20-hour rule. The NCAA places a 20-hour weekly maximum
on in-season non-academic athletics activities to ensure that
athletes can give adequate time to academics. Athletics departments
must not permit coaches to schedule explicitly or implicitly
mandatory training beyond the limit. Athletes often wish to
devote more time to training individually, and this is their
prerogative, but coaches and advisors should discourage it
when it appears to interfere with academics. The Coalition
supports efforts underway among NCAA Faculty Athletics Representatives
(FARs) to develop better methods for enforcing the limit. Not
only training, but all explicitly or implicitly required activities
should be considered part of the 20-hour limit. Schools should
empower Athletics Governance Committees to develop principles
for training schedules and to monitor compliance. Evaluation
of coaches should include their compliance with training limits,
and encouragement of a balanced approach to academic and athletic
needs. Athletics conferences should consider training-limit
violations an infringement on conference rules, and review
practices at member schools.
||Schedules for competition. Schedules should provide an adequate
competitive season with the least possible interference with
the academic needs of athletes. In recent years, seasons in
many sports have grown in length and number of competitions;
no further expansion should be adopted, and efforts should
be made to reduce season schedules. The Coalition recommends
that the NCAA and FARs lead an effort to develop and adopt
optimal scheduling principles for each sport. Certain principles
should apply generally: weeknight competitions during the regular
season should generally be eliminated; seasons must be designed
to minimize travel. In this same spirit, spring football practice
should be curtailed and closely monitored.
||Scholarships. No athlete should feel the need to shortchange
academic commitment in order to retain scholarship support.
Scholarship support should never be terminated for a student
who has demonstrated effort in athletics, who wishes to continue
in athletics, and who has met standards of academic and personal
conduct. Lengthening the term of athletes' scholarships should
||Integration in campus life. Athletes on campus are students
first, and should have the opportunity to participate fully
in campus life. They should not be segregated in their own
dormitories. They should participate in normal orientation
activities. Athletic advisors should make athletes aware of
the full range of campus opportunities available to them. They
should help them coordinate major requirements and the demands
of athletics. No athlete should be discouraged from pursuing
a major because of athletics.
||Professionalization. Athletics departments should make their
goal the development of well-rounded students. While coaches
work to win, those who win at the cost of the balanced development
of their athletes should not be rewarded or retained. The NCAA,
through the work of FARs, athletics directors, and coaches,
should develop 'best-practice' criteria for the evaluation
of coaches and other athletics staff, to reward excellence
that conforms with the best amateur
||ideals, rather than the standards of professional sports.
The ultimate authority for athletics governance must lie with university
presidents. Athletics programs must enhance the academic mission.
For presidents to be effective in aligning athletics with the academic
mission, they must have the backing of governing boards and effective
input from faculty. Our focus here is on the faculty role.
||Faculty Athletics Representatives. The effectiveness of
the FAR is central to athletics governance. The appointment
and evaluation of the FAR must be credible to administration
and faculty, and the FAR must be supported with funds, release
time, and authority. Guidelines designed to assess FAR offices
have been developed at PennState University. The Coalition
proposes these be used to develop a 'best-practice' model
for other schools during 2003-04. Individual schools must
be responsible for the effectiveness of the FAR office, but
NCAA review should be part of a best-practices model.
||Athletics Governance Committee. An Athletics Governance
Committee should exist on every campus, bringing faculty
(including the FAR), administrators, and students together
to oversee intercollegiate athletics. It should be the chief
policy-setting organ for athletics programs, and should review
special admissions, major personnel decisions and reviews,
and assessment of budgets and financial performance. The
constitution, appointment and authority of the committee
must ensure credibility. The Coalition proposes that Penn
State Guidelines be used in this case too, as the basis for
a best-practices model.
||Faculty senates. Faculty senates or their executive committees
should receive detailed reports on campus sports programs
at least annually from the FAR and Athletics Governance Committee,
including academic performance of athletes, program budgets,
and NCAA infractions. Faculty senates should be involved
in the appointment of both the FAR and faculty members of
the Athletics Governance Committee. A best-practices model
should be developed for faculty senates in these regards.
||Financial reporting principles. Uniform reporting standards
for athletics budgets should be established, to allow the
development of common guidelines and practices, and to provide
more transparency in how colleges and universities account
for revenues and expenses. At most schools, athletics program
expenses exceed revenues and require funds from the academic
side or the assessment of student fees. These should be determined
through an open governance process, in which governing boards,
administration, and faculty participate.
||The role of conferences. Conferences enhance the role of
athletics by creating traditions of rivalry central to school
identity, and alumni and community loyalty. As a level of
athletics governance, the conference can create or influence
policies concerning academic standards, athlete welfare,
limits of program scale, and so forth. The conference has
its fullest effect when its members share regional identity,
academic standards and goals, or longstanding common traditions.
Lasting reform of college sports requires stable conference
structures that represent academic rather than simply financial
relationships. Conferences that also serve as academic consortia,
such as the Big Ten, and recent initiatives by faculty leaders
in the SEC to create structures of conference-wide faculty
governance to complement and monitor athletics relationships,
are models of the direction the Coalition believes conferences
should take. Coalition partners such as the AGB and the AAUP
can play a role in promoting models for intercollegiate relationships,
but ultimately, university presidents and conference commissioners
must set long-term conference goals beyond athletic revenues.
The rising costs of athletics programs place a strain on schools
at a time of budget scarcity, and
||attempts to solve this problem through increased commercialization
can lead to an impairment of institutional control over athletics,
increased financial commitments (e.g., facilities), and violations
of taste that can alienate donors. Reform in this area is likely
to take longer than in the others, because of the complexity of the
issues. However, so many problems can be traced to issues of cost
and commercialization that no reforms will be effective unless these
are successfully addressed. Gradual but firmly scheduled changes
pertaining to cost and commercialization must accompany the more
rapid implementation of reforms in the areas of academics, welfare,
||Winning and revenues. Winning is the goal of athletes and
coaches, and programs appropriately promote winning. In the
revenue sports, winning is also generally viewed as essential
to financial health. However, to the degree that financial
success is tied to winning, intercollegiate athletics cannot
be healthy on the national level: not only do half of all competitors
lose,but the emphasis on post-season tournaments and national
championships raises the bar and increases the number of programs
that fall short. The link between winning and financial success
induces programs to invest in sports with the goal of financial
returns, and drives a competitive cost spiral. The Coalition
supports increased revenue-sharing (beyond the participants
in events) to minimize revenue-driven incentives for winning.
To the degree allowable under federal anti-trust laws, conferences
should also seek to control expenses and capital investment,
to create as level a playing field as possible. Increasing
revenue-sharing and limiting expenses may disadvantage programs
that are currently most successful financially; developing
a plan that buffers these effects during the period of reform
is necessary and will take time.
|| Professional standards and costs. Increased media attention
and rising expectations among fans have led to the application
of professional standards to college sports, including increasingly
sophisticated equipment, facilities and specialized coaching
staffs. Training for professional sports careers is not a goal
of intercollegiate athletics, nor does it benefit the vast
majority of college athletes; higher education gains nothing
from serving as a minor league for professional sports. Conferences
should establish standards for equipment, facilities, and coaching
staffs appropriate to amateur competition, and restrain excesses
||Other cost reduction possibilities.
||Scholarships. The present number of athletic scholarships
may be too high, and should be reviewed for each sport,
with the goal of fostering amateurism and reducing the
impact of commercial expectations. Scholarships based
on need should be considered as an alternative to the
current system, consistent with the concerns raised in
the earlier discussion of scholarships and athlete welfare.
||Football squad sizes. The size of football squads should
||Season length and design. Shortening seasons (and post-seasons)
is justified on student welfare grounds and would also
cut costs. Schedules should be designed to emphasize
conference play, reducing travel costs.
||Off-campus recruitment. Off-campus recruitment by coaches
places a heavy demand on coaches' time, requiring more
staff, and it encourages students' self-identification
as athletes rather than students. This costly competition
for prospects provides no net gain for higher education,
and rewards coaches for success as recruiters, rather
than for adding value as teachers, mentors, and coaches.
The Coalition recommends exploring limitations on off-campus
Televising games can deepen the loyalties of nationally dispersed alumni
and raise public awareness of higher education. However, the marketing
of intercollegiate athletics impairs institutional control, and may
undermine support for academics. It may link universities to products
and corporate sponsors that
||present conflicts with institutional values; may impair institutional
control over scheduling and contracts; and may lead to misjudgments
of taste that damage public perception of higher education. 'Name
recognition' and 'fan loyalty' based on televised sports has not
been demonstrated to contribute to the academic mission, and is
costly and unproductive for American higher education; it contributes
to a misperception by young people and parents of the nature and
purpose of higher education, and reinforces an emphasis on athletics
over academics in high schools. Moreover, college programs increasingly
emulate features of professional sports, raising costs that eliminate
revenue gains. Stepping back from over-commercialization entails
cost-cutting and the articulation by presidents and conferences
of firm standards of presentation and control.