Knight Commission to Release Major Findings of University President Survey on Financial State of College Athletics


First-of-Its-Kind Study and Related Reform Issues to Be Examined by Commission at October Meeting in Miami

WHO: The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics co-chaired by William E. “Brit” Kirwan, Chancellor, University System of Maryland, and R. Gerald Turner, President, Southern Methodist University, will be joined by expert panelists including Jim Delany, Big Ten Commissioner; Cedric Dempsey, former NCAA President; Neal Pilson, former President, CBS Sports and Gene Smith, Director of Athletics, The Ohio State University.

WHAT: The Knight Commission, an independent organization that promotes a reform agenda to better align college sports programs with educational missions, has conducted in-depth opinion research of FBS (formerly Division 1A) university presidents. This is a first-of-its-kind look at the attitudes of higher education leadership on college sports finances during uncertain economic times.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Knight Commission’s founding, current and former members will meet to discuss the survey findings and their implications as well as assess the impact of policy changes made over the past two decades. As part of the meeting, the Commission will launch College Sports 101, an interactive, Web-based report that provides an overview of the business and economic landscape of college sports. The report provides financial data that sheds new light on the key issues confronting higher education leaders.

WHEN: Monday, October 26, 2009.

  • 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EDT – Commission Meeting (Agenda below). Media are invited to attend the 20th Anniversary meeting.
  • 3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. EDT – Media Call. A media conference call will also give reporters who cannot attend the meeting an opportunity to ask questions to the Knight Commission co-chairmen and researchers. Call-in information will be provided to those who RSVP.

WHERE: EPIC Hotel, 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Miami, FL.


  • 9:30 – 9:35 a.m. Public Session, Metropolis B: Recognition of Myles Brand’s contributions and moment of silence in his honor.
  • 9:35 – 10:50 a.m. Public Session 1, Metropolis B: Assessing Two Decades of the Knight Commission’s Reform Agenda: To what extent has it improved intercollegiate athletics for institutions and athletes? Is the NCAA and its current governance structure equipped to address the rising financial stakes and their implications?
    • Panelists: Ced Dempsey, former president, NCAA; Gene Smith, associate vice president and director of athletics, The Ohio State University; John Thelin, University Research Professor, History of Higher Education & Public Policy, University of Kentucky; author, Games Colleges Play and A History of American Higher Education
  • 11:00 – 12:30 p.m. Public Session 2, Metropolis B: Opportunities and Threats: Preserving Educational Values in an Increasingly Commercial Landscape for College Sports
    • Panelists: Jim Delany, commissioner, Big Ten Conference; Pete Likins, president emeritus, University of Arizona; Neal Pilson, former president, CBS Sports
  • 3:00 – 3:30 p.m. Press Conference (in person and telephone), Baxter Room, EPIC Hotel

About the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics

The Knight 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 promote a reform agenda that emphasized academic values in a climate in which commercialization of college sports often overshadowed the underlying goals of higher education. The Commission, which presented recommendations in a series of reports in the early 1990s and in the subsequent A Call to Action in 2001, continues to monitor and advocate for changes necessary to enhance presidential control and leadership, academic integrity, financial integrity and independent certification of athletics programs.

About the Presidential Survey on the Cost and Financing of Intercollegiate Athletics

The survey reports the views of presidents for the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) universities on the costs and financing of intercollegiate athletics. The findings are based on 95 quantitative telephone interviews and 22 qualitative follow-up telephone interviews with presidents. The quantitative component achieved an 80 percent completion rate. The study was conducted by Art & Science Group of Baltimore, MD, from March to July 2009.

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 U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight focuses on ideas and projects that create transformational change. For more, visit