Athletics at NCAA Division I universities are undergoing rapid expansion and commercialization, resulting in an "arms race" universities find increasingly difficult to control. These concerns have been summarized by Myles Brand, president of Indiana University, in an article in the NCAA News of February 12, portions of which are appended below. It is a common proposition in the national dialogue on this issue that meaningful reform of intercollegiate athletics must begin with the university presidents of individual athletic conferences.
Therefore, the faculty and university senates of the ten universities in the PAC-10 Conference join together to make the following recommendations:
1. We urge the presidents and chancellors of our ten universities to begin serious discussions aimed at moderating the exponential growth of athletic programs and budgets in the PAC-10. We urge them to put this topic on the agenda of their June meeting, and to set as a first priority for the PAC-10 the development of an appropriate strategy and its implementation.
2. Further, we endorse the recommendations made in the appended essay,
"Presidents Have Cause, Means to Reduce Arms," and urge the presidents
to address them as the basis for their discussions.
APPENDIX: From "Presidents Have Cause, Means to Reduce Arms," by Myles Brand, NCAA News (Feb 12, 2001):
University presidents believe their primary job is to preserve and create environments where new knowledge can be discovered, transmitted and preserved. But often, the public sees the university differently. For them, the most visible and vital role played by these institutions is as a sponsor of athletic teams. . . . This enormous interest in college sports has led to growing commercialization and the blending together of intercollegiate athletics and entertainment. That has an impact on the entire institution, and the public's perception of it. . . . This focus on athletics turns the attention of the public, and sometimes of university administrators, away from our real job. . . . Athletic success cannot substitute for academic success. Universities must be judged by their achievements as academic institutions, not as sports franchises.
I believe now is the right time to renew the athletic reform movement. Call it "Academics First." Presidential control of athletics must be a cornerstone of this effort. Presidents must work to eliminate the excesses of commercialism, to ensure the academic success of student-athletes, and to make certain that athletic programs enhance and support the larger academic mission of the university. . . .
The success of an Academics First movement depends, I am convinced, on action taken by presidents and their boards. . . . A president embarking on this project will also find able allies in his or her peers. In addition to working through the NCAA, mutual support among college presidents may best be achieved on the conference level. In these small circles of similar schools, presidents have opportunities to examine and debate issues and to take action. If redirection of intercollegiate athletics is to occur, it will likely begin at a conference level. . . .
What should the presidents' goals be? Here are a few suggestions:
* Make certain that academic support systems for athletes are totally integrated into university-wide efforts. That would lessen the chance for the high-profile academic scandals we have seen at some Division I institutions and it would reduce the isolation of student-athletes from the rest of the student body.
* Resist over-commercialization. Working together, especially through conferences, presidents can limit the times and days when basketball games are played, the number of breaks in games for commercials, the type and prevalence of advertising in the stadiums and arenas and the logos worn by players and coaches. Limiting the revenue flow to athletics programs leads to the next step.
* Stop, or at least slow, the "arms race." Resist subsidizing athletics programs from the academic side of the institution. Demand the same cost accountability from athletics programs that is expected from other university programs. . . .
The path that we are now following leads to an ever-widening gap between the academic and athletics cultures on our college campuses. Over time, it could well lead to college programs that differ little from professional ones. It already has led to a growing sense among members of the public--and even members of the university community--that athletics success is the main goal of too many institutions of higher learning.
We must get off that path. We must make certain that academic concerns are first and foremost. To do that, we don't have to turn off the game. We just have to turn down the volume.