Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Announces New Grants Program

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics is requesting proposals for grants to support research on intercollegiate athletics policy. The program is intended to enhance the Commission’s long-standing legacy of recommending policy changes to improve the management and integrity of big-time college athletics by bringing new voices into the conversation about how to ensure that athletics programs provide value both to individual athletes and to the colleges and universities that support them.

Proposals will be judged on their originality, feasibility, clarity and, most significantly, their relevance to policy and practice in the areas of concern outlined in the Commission’s reports, to wit:

  • Academic integrity and valuable educational experiences for college athletes
    • Institutional and organizational (e.g., NCAA, conferences) accountability for academic integrity and responsible management
    • Treating athletes as students first, not as professional athletes
    • Strengthening the principles of amateurism to prevent the commercial exploitation of athletes
    • Rewarding practices that make academic values a priority
  • Fiscal integrity of athletics programs
    • Greater transparency of finances, including better measures to compare athletics and academic spending
    • De-escalation of the “arms race” in spending on athletics
    • Promoting the financial sustainability of college athletics and an appropriate balance between athletics and academic spending
  • Presidential and academic authority over the operations of intercollegiate athletics

The Commission will award grants for the 2011-12 academic year (including the summer of 2012) for researchers to conduct studies in these areas. The Commission will host public meetings for researchers to present their work to the media as well as leaders in academe and intercollegiate athletics.

To be successful, proposals will need to demonstrate a high level of understanding of the history, structure, politics, and economics of college athletics. The format for proposals may include original scholarship suitable for peer review, policy papers to spur discussion among leaders, or an in-depth journalistic study in print, online, or digital media. Any of these formats will be assessed on an equivalent basis for quality, sophistication, and potential to achieve the identified goals.

Two tiers of grants will be considered. One tier will be considered for funding up to $25,000, based on the quality of the proposal and the justifications in the proposed budgets. The second tier will receive awards up to $5,000 based on the same criteria.

Principal investigators may be affiliated with educational or nonprofit institutions, but proposals from publications and other private organizations will be considered. Multi-organizational and interdisciplinary proposals are encouraged.

The deadline for proposals will be August 5, 2011, and winners will be announced October 24. Final reports will be due on August 1, 2012. For a copy of the full Request for Proposals, please link here. Questions may be directed by email to