January 26, 2009


A. Report on the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA).

Professor Thomas Palaima (classics and UT Austin’s COIA representative) gave a PowerPoint presentation,1 and filed a comprehensive written report, and provided a summary handout that was distributed to Faculty Council members at the meeting. These documents are included in Appendices A, B, and C, respectively, and have been posted on the Faculty Council’s web page.

Professor Palaima’s report addressed the following topics:

  • COIA background information as well as the organization’s current activities and concerns
  • Recent concerns specific to UT Austin regarding athletics and various academic issues
  • Proposals for additional reporting requirements and increased standards for recruitment/admissions and athletic scholarship retention for student athletes at UT Austin
  • Questions for the directors of UT Austin’s NCAA athletics programs to answer

The two questions Professor Palaima asked the athletics department to answer at the conclusion of his report were the following:

  1. As a top program, besides winning, what do we do better than other schools for our student-athletes?
  2. What areas at UT Austin are most in need of further improvement?

In response to Professor Molly Cummings’ (integrative biology) question as to why the cumulative UT grade point average (GPA) was higher for females than for males (3.18 and 3.05, respectively), Professor Palaima quibbled, “I think women are smarter than men.” He said it might be due to the small number of student athletes, but given their access to tutors and special study resources, he really did not know the answer. Professor Cummings said an alternate explanation could be there are lower expectations regarding the work ethic for males than females. She suggested that COIA might want to consider recommending the same GPA for both sexes since the innate ability and work ethic rationales should not be promoted by universities. Professor Palaima said he would convey this suggestion to the steering committee, but he cautioned that the NCAA often does not rigorously enforce new regulations or ways are often found to circumvent them, which he said had both been true of the recently adopted Academic Progress Rate (APR) measure. He said he could not find a detailed explanation of how the APR was calculated on the NCAA web site and was finally able to understand it following the athletic councils’ reports to the Faculty Council last year. He said this was another good example of the model transparency of UT Austin’s athletics programs and personnel. Professor Palaima concluded his report by saying, “Again, many of the issues that I discussed are national problems, but there are some serious matters here as well.” He then invited Council members to contact him by email if they had further questions.

1The complete transcription of Professor Palaima’s verbal report that accompanied his PowerPoint presentation can be reviewed at the Faculty Council office; it is not included in the minutes since his written report included essentially the same content that is presented in the PowerPoint presentation, which is attached in Appendix A.


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