The Association of Governing Boards (AGB) recently issued an update to its 2007 policy statement created to “reinvigorate efforts on the part of governing boards to align intercollegiate athletics with the mission, vision, and values of higher education.” As noted by Inside Higher Ed, the most significant difference with the new document is that the AGB has appended an “illustrative policy” that it says institutions should consider creating to more clearly outline the responsibilities of boards and college presidents regarding athletics.
There is increased tension between athletics and academics in higher education, particularly related to the increasing cost of athletics relative to that of the academics. The AGB article states that college presidents have to exert their authority to keep sports in perspective on their campuses, and that they can do that only with support (and without excessive interference from) their bosses — boards of trustees or regents. The NCAA is paying more attention to governing issues through its process of certifying athletic programs of its membership.
Richard A. Skinner, AGB’s senior vice president for programs and research, told Inside Higher Ed: “Where we’ve seen things really become ugly is where athletics were raised to such importance in the context of the institution, over everything else. The goal with this statement is to put in some sort of proportionality, to suggest that the board exercise its fiduciary responsibility and oversight for intercollegiate athletics in the same way that you would for other aspects of the undergraduate experience.