As the University of North Carolina continues to seek an end of the athletics controversy that has roiled campus for more than six years, the removal of a history class on athletics from the fall schedule has raised governance questions. I argued that much of the controversy at UNC centered around governance problems at the institution and the decision to cut the athletics course has many asking if UNC still has a governance issue on campus. In today’s post, I want to discuss the facts behind the case and the relevant governance issues at play in the case.
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The current controversy is focused on the class, “Big-Time College Sports and the Rights of Athletes, 1956 to the Present.”
The NCAA has issued the formal Notice of Allegations (NOA) against the University of North Carolina related to the ongoing academic scandal at the institution. The allegations contain no major bombshells or smoking guns. Rather, the facts related to the case have been fairly well known for a while now. However, there is a point that has been lost in much of the blame, finger pointing, public relations maneuvering, and the thousands of words written about this issue. This point was clear in the NOA and must be acknowledged by all parties: UNC faculty lost institutional control of the academic integrity of the university.
Photo credit: UNC News
I have written before about my belief that the scandal was the substantially a governance failing. I’ve also said that I don’t care about athletics or athletic penalties- I want to repair and restore the academic integrity of the university.
UAB President Ray Watts has announced that the institution is “taking steps” to reinstate the football program just six months after eliminating it. I wrote at the time that the move was the right decision for the wrong reasons. Although members of the UAB community are understandably thrilled with the reversal, I’m not. In fact, I believe the announcement was the wrong decision for the wrong reasons.
President Watts, Chancellor Robert Witt, and the University of Alabama trustees grossly misrepresented the original decision to cut football. They also dramatically underestimated the backlash that would result.
In recent years, debate has surrounded college athletic departments. Legal challenges have questioned why students aren’t getting more financial reward and a share of the revenues. Faculty and staff question the value and amount of money spent in support of athletics in an environment of scarce resources. Astronomical coaches salaries, massive facilities, and the churn of conference realignment make even the biggest fan question the future of intercollegiate athletics. In spite of the media exposure and interest, I am consistently surprised at how little we know about basic questions related to athletics. In today’s post, I want to address one of the most basic and misunderstood questions: Do college athletic departments make a profit?
Photo credit: Matthew Henry Hall www.matthewhenryhall.com
One of my biggest disappointments in sports is never getting to see Dean Smith coach in person at North Carolina. Just two months after I arrived in Chapel Hill as an undergraduate in the fall of 1997, Coach Smith announced his retirement. It is hard for me to believe he hasn’t been on the sideline for nearly 18 years. While I was never able to witness Smith’s greatness staging a comeback thanks to those hoarded timeouts or raising four fingers, I feel fortunate to have grown up in Dean Smith’s Chapel Hill. Dean Smith’s legacy illustrates everything right about intercollegiate athletics.
Dean Smith passed away at the age of 83 over the weekend. Coach Smith’s tenure in Chapel Hill spanned parts of four decades. When you think about everything that occurred from the 1960s to the 1990s, it is surprising that Smith was able to adapt to the changes in students, universities, sport, and society.