April 11, 2011


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

Professor Thomas Palaima (classics), UT Austin’s COIA representative, presented his annual report, which is attached in Appendix C. Because the written report is quite detailed, the content will not be replicated in the narrative portion of the minutes. Referring to COIA as the organization that provides “an independent faculty voice on matters of the relationship between NCAA programs and institutions of higher education,” Professor Palaima covered the history of the organization, his involvement during the past three years, his concerns about collegiate sports in general, as well as, the UT athletic programs and their student athletes, and the inadequacy of NCAA measures in monitoring athlete academic progress and success.

After he presented his comprehensive and thorough report, Professor Gordon asked what Professor Palaima would recommend to improve the situation at UT Austin? Professor Palaima said he thought the president and provost should immediately appoint a Faculty Council committee to interface and monitor what is occurring with the Longhorn Network. He also said he thought presidential appointments to the Intercollegiate Athletics Council for Men should not be continued in an effort to introduce greater independence of the oversight.

As pointed out in several places in his report, Professor Palaima said that he had tried to focus most of his report on what others thought and said rather than on what he personally thought about the problems existing in athletic programs and the interface between athletics and academics. He said the individuals he had quoted and paraphrased in his presentation included the head of the NCAA, the commissioner of the Big Ten, the Knight Commission, the president of Pennsylvania State University, among others, and they all repeatedly called for a stronger, independent faculty voice in the oversight of college athletics. This oversight should include recruitment and admissions, as well as, monitoring of the academic progress of student athletes every year. He said this would take collaboration between the administration and the Faculty Council leadership. He encouraged the Faculty Council to become more actively involved and not to just passively listen to the information provided by athletics. He said he was a tired voice and that was why he was reporting what others said, especially those more extensively involved in the world of sports than he was. He mentioned basketball player, Jim Delaney, as an example of an individual who played and loved sports, but could still see the corruption involved with the extremely low graduation rates of minority athletes. He mentioned how Arne Duncan, the secretary of education and a former athlete, has spoken up about many of the problems, especially the lack of success student athletes had in completing their educations. Professor Palaima said many individuals speak up but few, if any, are really doing anything to fix the problems, and he thought this was especially true of those in positions of power. He said when he complained about low overall graduation rates, such as 50 percent, people at UT Austin commented on having an 80 percent rate and pointed fingers at other institutions, such as Boise State with its 28 percent rate, as being the cause of the problems. He said Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds said it was difficult to be an elite academic institution and compete with others that have much lower standards. Professor Palaima closed his remarks by saying.”…we [UT Austin] do a pretty good job of it, but I don’t think as good a job as we could do, and part of it is the obsession with win, win, win.”

Professor Staiger thanked Professor Palaima for his dedication to making others conscious about what is occurring in athletic programs both nationally and locally. However, she said she wanted to thank the athletic council members and say she thought there had been an effort by the Faculty Council to identify responsible nominees who would speak up to improve the situation here on campus. She reminded everyone of the new Student Life and Activities Committee, which had been established to be independent in its review of UT athletics programs and student athletes’ academic progress as well as other student activities and groups. She told Professor Palaima that she thought progress had been made and new efforts were underway. She also said that much of what was being done was due to the issues he had raised and made others understand; therefore, she said she saw no need for apologies to be made. Professor Palaima said he understood, and the changes Professor Staiger was talking about were very good ones in his opinion. He said he was not in despair because sometimes changes take a long time to occur. He said serving as the COIA representative had been fun and provided him opportunities to do good work and meet bright, concerned people at the national level. He said he was pleased that the Student Life and Activities Committee has been given its charge. However, he still felt that a statement by the president or provost acknowledging what the president of Penn State, Knight Commission, COIA, and NCAA all were recommending with regard to a strong, independent faculty voice would be very helpful because Texas is one of the trendsetters with regard to college athletics. He closed his remarks by saying, “Texas, Stanford, and a few others are put up in this Olympus of athletics programs, and they, therefore, have serious responsibility to do things the right way….to do things the right way.” Chair Newkirk thanked Professor Palaima for his report and service.

Return to main minutes