MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF
OCTOBER 21, 2013
COIA Representative Report to UT Faculty Council
Edmund T. Gordon
October 21, 2013
“The Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA; the Coalition) is an alliance of faculty senates from NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools. COIA’s mission is to provide a national faculty voice on intercollegiate sports issues. Areas of concern include academic integrity and quality, student-athlete welfare, campus governance of intercollegiate athletics, commercialization, and fiscal responsibility.” (http://blogs.comm.psu.edu/thecoia/)
I attended COIA’s Tenth Anniversary National Meeting held February 1-3, 2013 at the University of South Florida, Tampa. From COIA’s perspective the major problem facing intercollegiate athletics is the growing fiscal imbalance in athletics, and trends towards professionalization. However, there are three related issues that dominate college sports at the moment: the O’Bannon class action lawsuit against the NCAA, which threatens to undermine the “Collegiate Model” of amateur sports; conference realignment, which has highlighted the strength of economic forces driving the behavior of FBS schools and the growing strength of conference consortia as major driving forces; and increasing calls for the end to the NCAA, prompted both by advocates of professionalization and by dissatisfaction with the NCAA’s regulatory enforcement conduct. (see “Report to the Membership,” March 2013 attached)
In this context the NCAA is engaging in a far reaching process of reform and restructuring that includes “the imminent decentralization and deregulation of many areas of college sports. The proposed deregulation includes a shift from a centrally administered rules-based system that enforces competitive equity to a local, values-based system; the reduction of the scope of NCAA enforcement; and replacement of the NCAA’s ten-year recertification process with an annual Institutional Performance Program (IPP). The result is that schools will have to adhere to standards of fair competition that to a significant degree they themselves define and implement. For the athletics enterprise to retain integrity over time, schools will need to monitor and enforce campus adherence to the core values of the NCAA Collegiate Model.”
Faced with this realty this year’s meeting was entitled: “Expanding the Role of Faculty in the Governance of Intercollegiate Athletics at Both the National and Campus Levels”. The focus of the meeting was a series of work sessions in which attendees helped to draft recommendations to the NCAA regarding what can be done to expand faculty participation in the governance of intercollegiate athletics at the national level and to develop a “tool kit” that universities can use to improve oversight of athletics – especially on academic matters – at the campus level.
The NCAA collaborated in these meetings with Kevin Lennon (NCAA Vice President of Academic and Membership Affairs), Diane Dickman (Managing Director of Academic and Membership Affairs) and Jenn Fraser (Director of Academic and Membership Affairs) participating in the discussions. Representatives of partner organizations, such as Faculty Athletics Representatives Association, Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, Drake Group also participated. Other topics, speakers, and highlights of the meeting included:
- COIA at Ten Years: Looking Back and Forward
- Legal issues in intercollegiate athletics
- Wally Renfro (NCAA Vice President and Chief Policy Advisor)
- Update on NCAA presidential reforms
- Judy Genshaft (USF President and immediate past chair of NCAA D1 Board)
- Data sharing and collaborative research with the NCAA
The most important outcome of this meeting was the position paper “Increasing Faculty Engagement in a Deregulated Athletics Context” The membership of COIA agreed that faculty engagement in athletics governance must play a critical role in deregulated collegiate athletics. The position paper offers a model through which the faculty role can be appropriately enhanced.
As the UT Austin Faculty Council representative to COIA I strongly endorse COIA’s position on these issues. (see February 2013 attached) I believe that given the national stature of UT’s athletic program, the impending changes in the NCAA, the national situation of collegiate sports, and the immediacy of changes in the leadership of UT’s athletic program it is important that our university adopt a version of all of COIA’s recommendations on faculty engagement.
- The position of Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) needs to be enhanced. The size and complexity of UT’s athletics enterprise makes it practically impossible for any one person to carry out all of the important duties of the FAR. It is also important that the position be a rotating one so that no one person serves a term in perpetuity.
- I suggest six year terms with three persons serving; one as Incoming FAR, another as FAR, and the third Immediate Past FAR under the leadership of the FAR. The FAR should be an ex officio member of the UT Faculty Council.
- The existing Men’s and Women’s athletics councils should be reformed to serve a serious oversight role rather than merely an advisory role. The Chair of the two councils should be elected every year from among the faculty members of each Council.
- UT should adopt the COIA recommendations regarding the establishment of an Academic Integrity Group (AIG) which would be chaired by a tenured faculty member, the Council Athletic Representative (CAR), appointed by the Faculty Council.
- “The charge of the AIG would be to set new policy concerning athletics matters that bear on academic integrity, to monitor the campus implementation of all such policies, to report on a regular basis to the [Faculty Council], and to provide the NCAA with an annual report confirming the due diligence of the AIG and its ability to perform its assigned role. Faculty members of the AIG could be the faculty members of the Men’s and Women’s Athletic Councils. The CAR should be an ex officio member of the UT Faculty Council.
We addressed two other issues of great importance at this year’s meeting. The first was the effects of the current litigation against the NCAA on its future specifically the O’bannon suite and its implication for the economic future of collegiate sport. The second and perhaps more important is the effect of concussions and other forms of brain trauma on NCAA sports. This is an issue that is currently in the news here at UT. No specific resolutions were passed in relation to these issues.
Once again I strongly support the UT Faculty Council’s participation in COIA. This is an organization of great importance and one of the only voices for faculty participation in the governance of collegiate athletics, as well as one of the only breaks on a national collegiate juggernaut that seems on the verge of doing permanent harm to the institutions and students who participate.