The National Alliance for College Athletic Reform (NAFCAR) recently met in Des Moines, Iowa to consider proposals that would reduce the level of academic corruption in college athletics. The founder of this group is Jon L. Ericson, former provost of Drake University, and the current director of the alliance is Murray A. Sperber, professor of English and American studies at the Bloomington campus of Indiana University. Sperber is the author of College Sports, Inc. and Onward to Victory - The Crises that Shaped College Sports. In the latter book Sperber notes that relatively few college and university athletic programs are self-supporting. Fewer than 30 actually bring in enough money from ticket sales and television revenue to cover their costs. All the remaining programs lose money, and must be supported by money drained from the academic budget.
The recent NAFCAR
conference produced the following working paper:
1. Faculty and administrators abandon the use of the term "student-athlete". Students who participate in athletics shall be referred to as students, or athletes, but not "student-athletes".
2. Faculty senates oversee and control the academic counseling and support programs for athletes, and universities shall remove control of these functions from athletic departments. In addition, universities shall provide academic support for all students, and abandon the practice of providing academic support on the basis of athletic status.
3. Universities publicly disclose the academic major, academic adviser, courses listed by academic major, general education requirements, and electives, including course GPA and instructor for all students. No individual's grades will be disclosed.
The university will disclose for each intercollegiate athletic team the courses enrolled in by team members, the average of the grades given in the course, and instructor of the course at the end of the semester.
Because the Buckley Amendment is invoked to prevent academic accountability, disclosure may require a challenge to the amendment and to the way universities interpret it.
4. Universities reduce the number of intercollegiate athletic contests.
eliminate "athletic scholarships" while expanding the availability of need-based
aid. Until such time that scholarships are eliminated, faculty senates
should ensure that athletes who face contradictory demands from coaches
and faculty can defer to the latter without losing financial aid.
The IP realizes that those 20 to 30 institutions of higher education that actually make money from their athletic programs, and perhaps another hundred or so that feel that they ultimately derive economic benefit from their academic programs are likely to be very unhappy with these proposals. In those cases, he is willing to go along with the suggestion of Jerry Pyle, who is a professor of physical education at Concordia College. Pyle's proposal would allow colleges and universities to own minor league sports teams. The players would be paid employees of these teams, and would not be required to attend classes.
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©2000 Dr. Mark H. Shapiro - All rights reserved.