News Release: Americans are concerned about college sports

Knight Commission Poll Finds Americans Are Concerned

About College Sports

Professionalism in college sports, among topics at Washington, D.C. Summit

(WASHINGTON, JAN. 30)– Americans are deeply concerned about the professionalization of college sports, according to a new poll conducted for the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. Concerns about how the increasing pressure to win and generate revenue impacts the athletes’ recruitment and subsequent experience prompted the commission to sponsor the first-ever Summit on the Collegiate Athlete Experience today at The George Washington University.

In addition to the live presentation, the summit will be webcast free of charge from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at The webcast is the keynote for the launch of the Knight Commission’s redesigned website.

At the summit, Knight Commission members, as well as students, athletics administrators and faculty, will hear from current and former college athletes about topics such as recruiting, the use of performance-enhancing substances, academics, and the role of athletes to impact policy changes.

Among the panelists are current and former college stars, many of whom have gone on to professional careers. Among them are former pro football player Don McPherson, now at Adelphi University; Ruth Riley of the University of Notre Dame and the Detroit Shock of the Women’s National Basketball Association and Kareem McKenzie of Pennsylvania State University and the NFL New York Giants; current standouts like Jemalle Cornelius of the University of Florida and Tye Gunn of Texas Christian University; top-ranked recruits Scottie Reynolds of Herndon (Va.) High School and Myron Rolle of The Hun School in Princeton, N.J.; and former athletes who chaired the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

“Americans have strong views about college sports and the welfare of student-athletes,” said former Michigan State University president Clifton R. Wharton Jr., vice chairman of the commission. “They believe that college sports are becoming overtly professionalized. We look forward to hearing directly from the athletes about their experiences, and allowing them an opportunity to share their opinion on these important issues.”

R. Gerald Turner, Southern Methodist University’s president and also vice chairman of the commission, said that the poll “provides a good starting point for the conversation about the welfare of college athletes. Its findings should not be seen as conclusive, but they do suggest that Americans have widely differing views on intercollegiate athletics.”

The Census-balanced and representative telephone poll of 502 American adults was conducted for the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics by Widmeyer Research and Polling of Washington, D.C. in mid-December 2005.


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 its groundbreaking 1991 report, Keeping Faith with the Student-Athlete, and again in 2001 in A Call to Action, reconvened in November 2003 to continue its work with a specific effort to involve athletes and other students in discussions about college sports. More information about the commission is available at