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.
As I discussed a few months ago, I’m currently conducting a study with my research assistant on the causes of why college presidents are fired or forced to resign. There was tremendous press around this issue particularly with Holden Thorp leaving UNC following the academic and athletic crisis there. This past weekend, Barry Jacobs, a sports columnist for the Charlotte Observer and the Raleigh News and Observer wrote a thoughtful column that I want to repost and share here. Jacobs references our study about the causes for presidential involuntary turnover. I thought his take and the comparison between Holden Thorp and Paul Hardin was particularly salient. The athletics pressures on college presidents aren’t new and remain a significant problem for many universities.
Photo credit: rudresh_calls
Athletics a Pressure Point for University Leaders
By Barry Jacobs
There’s no surefire way to prepare, no tutorial or textbook laying out the pitfalls and pressure points. University presidents and chancellors, the NCAA’s putative leaders, reportedly don’t even like to discuss athletics among themselves. Most will survive averting their gaze – “involuntary transitions” due to athletics scandal are surprisingly uncommon, according to a yet-to-be-published working paper on turnover among university presidents.
“The struggles with athletics may be the most prominent, but I don’t know that it’s the most threatening to a presidency, by and large,” says Michael Harris, the Southern Methodist University professor who co-authored the study. Firings and resignations, particularly at public universities, are more likely due to “loss of board confidence” and “financial improprieties.”