Knight Commission Discusses the Future of Intercollegiate Athletics with Myles Brand and Conference Commissioners

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics met today with NCAA President Myles Brand and conference commissioners and addressed a broad range of challenges facing college sports.  Commissioners discussed and applauded the work of the newly formed NCAA Presidential Task Force on the Future of Intercollegiate Athletics, citing the alignment of its efforts and the task force’s goals.

The task force is chaired by Commission member Peter Likins, president of the University of Arizona, and includes three additional members of the Knight Commission in its leadership.

The Commission noted the important steps the NCAA has taken toward academic reform, and heard reports about the positive effect the new program is already having.   The Commission also is encouraged by the commitment expressed by conference commissioners to review the presentation of postseason football bowl games to better align with the more collegiate presentation of NCAA championship events.

The Commission received reports on three new financial studies commissioned by the NCAA that examine operating revenues and expenditures and spending on athletics facilities.  The Commission noted that even without full costing of capital expenditures and staff compensation, the preliminary data show that from 2001 to 2003, athletics spending grew at a rate four times faster than overall institutional spending.  The Commission expressed concern that this rate of growth cannot be sustained.  The Commission also noted that although some speculation has attributed this rapid growth to Title IX compliance, data from the NCAA report show that the portion of total athletics funds allocated to women’s programs remained steady over the same time period.

“It’s clear that all those interested in the future of intercollegiate athletics must find a way to bridle escalating expenses,” said Thomas K. Hearn Jr., president of Wake Forest University, in his first meeting as chair of the Knight Commission.  “As the Knight Commission indicated recently in opposing the addition of a 12th Division I-A football game, we cannot resolve our fiscal challenges by burdening athletes with an additional game to generate revenue.  Policy decisions, such as spending allocations and the number of games in a season, must be based on what is best for the academic and physical well-being of our athletes and what most closely aligns with the mission and values of our institutions of higher education.”

Also of concern to the Commission were data presented in the NCAA’s recently released “Physical Capital Stock Used in Collegiate Athletics” report, which show that the eight Division I-A institutions in the study spend almost as much on annual athletics capital projects as they do for the athletics departments’ operating costs ($24 million in annual capital costs versus $27 million in annual athletics operating costs). With regard to the facilities arms race in college sports, the report concludes that football stadium capacity is the “key variable in explaining total athletic capital costs” and that future analysis of these costs be conducted “simply by observing changes in stadium capacity.”  Based on that variable, the report concludes that “the magnitude of the arms race appears modest.”  The Commission questioned the report’s focus on football stadium capacity as the sole indicator of an arms race and encouraged the NCAA to gather data from more Division I-A institutions so that a more thorough analysis of capital costs could be completed and inform the NCAA Presidential Task Force’s work.

In other action, the Commission unanimously agreed to support the NCAA’s resolution urging the U.S. Department of Education to rescind its March 17, 2005 “Additional Clarification for Title IX.”  The clarification allows schools to prove compliance with meeting female students’ interest in sports by administering an e-mail survey to enrolled students.  Echoing a recommendation it made in 1991 in its first report, Keeping Faith with the Student-Athlete, the Commission urged presidents to commit their institutions to achieving equity in all aspects of intercollegiate athletics.

The Commission also met with officials from the Association of Governing Boards (AGB) to explore ways to better educate presidents and trustees about AGB’s “Statement on Board Responsibilities for Intercollegiate Athletics.” The Commission fully supports the statement and commends it to presidents and boards.

Those in attendance at the Commission meeting included Hearn and vice-chairs Gerald Turner, president of Southern Methodist University and Clifton R. Wharton, former chairman and CEO of TIAA-CREF; Michael F. Adams, president of University of Georgia; Carol A. Cartwright, president of Kent State University; Len Elmore, ESPN analyst and senior counsel with LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, LLP; Elson Floyd, president of the University of Missouri system; and Peter Likins, president of the University of Arizona.

The Commission will meet again Oct. 23-24, 2005 in Washington, D.C.

About the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics

The Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics was formed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in October 1989 in response to more than a decade of highly visible scandals in college sports. The goal of the Commission was to recommend a reform agenda that emphasized academic values in an arena where commercialization of college sports often overshadowed the underlying goals of higher education.  The Commission, which presented a series of recommendations in a 1991 report, and A Call to Action in 2001, will continue to monitor and report on progress in increasing presidential control, academic integrity, financial integrity and independent certification of athletics programs.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities.


Media Notes:

A copy of the NCAA’s resolution urging the U.S. Department of Education to rescind its March 17, 2005 Additional Clarification for Title IX is available on

Copies of the financial reports received by the Commission are available on “The Physical Capital Stock Used in Collegiate Athletics,” (PDF) “The Empirical Effects of Collegiate Athletics:  An Update,” and “Revenues and Expenses of Division I and II Intercollegiate Athletics Programs.”

A copy of the AGB’s Statement on Board Responsibilities for Intercollegiate Athletics is available on