A Three-Point Reform Agenda for Sports in Higher Education

Published on 14 June 2012 by in College Sports, General, NCAA

Three-Point Reform Agenda for Sports in Higher Education

Three-Point Reform Agenda for Sports in Higher Education


At any college or university that hosts an intercollegiate sports program, the principal stakeholders must be assured candid, complete, and verifiable records for athletic revenues and obligations as well as for academic standards and performance. These records should be open for public inspection and accountability, subject only to appropriate privacy protections for the identity of individual students.

The body of sports stakeholders should include representatives of the school’s trustees and administrative leadership, its athletic department, its faculty, and students both on and off its sports teams.


Stakeholders must exercise joint responsibility for the separate spheres of academics and sports. To uphold integrity in both areas, they must manage conflict and competing goals.

They should, for instance, address in detail any variance allowed for athletic recruits in college admissions. More generally, they could allocate a percentage of sports broadcasting and advertising receipts to the academic budget. They could adjust the class calendar to accommodate seasonal demands on athletes, and take steps to encourage interaction in campus life between athletes and non-athletes. They should seek external alignments to compete athletically with schools of comparable balance and purpose, as reflected in conference rules.


Colleges and universities shall respect the basic rights of all students, applied consistently to athletes and non-athletes alike. On campus, as under the law, adult students retain the full attributes of citizenship. These include the rights and duties of informed consent, equal opportunity, representative government, and due process.

No freedom shall be abridged because of athletic status. To meet practical needs and aspirations, all students are eligible to seek fair compensation in full- or part-time jobs, entrepreneurial ventures, teaching appointments, work-study programs, and all other legitimate enterprise whether for or separate from their school.

Three-Point Reform Agenda for Sports in Higher Education (PDF)

One Response to “A Three-Point Reform Agenda for Sports in Higher Education”

  1. Name (required)Jim Craft says:

    I certainly think your suggestions represent the minimum set of requirements for athletic programs in colleges and universities. But I don’t think they go nearly far enough.

    When it comes to the athletic programs at major colleges and universities, we seem to have lost track of the primary objective of such institutions: to educate the students. Major athletic programs have become sources of entertainment for many millions of Americans. I would venture to say that major college football is the #1 spectator sport in the country (with the possible exception of the NFL).

    As a result of this, coaches at major universities are paid 6-figure salaries and the budgets for the athletic departments have swamped those of the academic departments. Talk about a loss in perspective.

    I would suggest a few additional changes to the way we operate athletic departments at our institutions of higher learning. First, I would limit the salaries of athletic coaches to be no higher than the salaries in the academic departments. Second, I would require athletes who do not finish their education (the “one and done” athletes) to compensate the university for the cost of their abortive educations when they use their college athletic experiences as springboards to the NFL, NBA, etc. One way to do this would be to require the receiving professional organization to fund a 4-year scholarship for each athlete they sign before the “student/athlete” has completed his education.

    The professional leagues currently use college athletic departments as “minor leagues.” They should at least have to pay for this privilege.

    I actually would go a step beyond this: If a young man (or woman) really doesn’t want an education, but wants an opportunity to develop and market athletic skills in order to pursue a career in professional athletics, let these folks not go to a college or university; rather, let the professional leagues form minor league systems (like baseball) and cut the hypocrisy. These athletes are simply taking up spaces that could be occupied by people who would be serious about their educations.

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