Regents’ Discuss Athletics, Strategic Plans

On December 3, the Arizona Board of Regents held a meeting at which the future of intercollegiate athletics in the state of Arizona was discussed. Welch Suggs, a consultant to the Knight Commission, made a presentation of College Sports 101 and the recent Presidential Survey on the Cost and Financing of Intercollegiate Athletics. Among the challenges highlighted by Suggs were the cost structure and financing of intercollegiate athletics and the general perception university leaders have about reforming intercollegiate athletics.

“Very few people understand what happens in athletics offices Monday through Friday, 9 to 5,” said Suggs, a consultant to the foundation who served as the primary editor on the report, which was released in October. Suggs noted, however, that such offices are highly visible, with a broad range of stakeholders and a “particular set of economic circumstances that govern their behavior.” He noted that “everyone is concerned about this,” from the individual departments, the institutions and their presidents to the athletic divisions.

Findings in the report indicated that about 75 percent of the presidents and chancellors recognize “unique challenges to control costs” of athletics in comparison to other units on campus and also that nearly half of them believe they will have to either eliminate sports in the future.

The financial pressures on the universities, as a whole, are growing very quickly,” Suggs said, emphasizing that the current economic environment and concerns about the future of intercollegiate athletics are “unlike previous eras.”

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