Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Announces Six Grants to Advance Policy and Best Practices

WASHINGTON—The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics announced the results of a competitive grants program, “Shaping policy and practice in intercollegiate athletics for the benefit of students and institutions.” The Commission received 38 applications from researchers and organizations throughout the country and selected six for funding. Details on the selected projects are below.

Researchers will present their findings at a Commission event next fall. The Commission’s intent with the program is to enhance the study of policy in intercollegiate athletics, encouraging researchers to assess the issues identified by the Commission and others. The goal of the program is not merely to produce new knowledge and insights, but to provide real-world information and advice to leaders in college athletics to address the ethical, commercial, and academic challenges they face in college sports.

“I am very encouraged by the quality and variety of proposals we received,” said Carol A. Cartwright, president emerita of Kent State University, who chaired the Commission’s review committee. “The work to be done with these grants will be of great value to presidents and others with a stake in college sports.”


“Shaping policy and practice in intercollegiate athletics for the benefit of students and institutions”

Who’s Minding the Store?

John Casteen, Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities

AGB’s study will identify gaps between actual practices and best practices of athletics program oversight as articulated in AGB’s “Statement on Board Oversight of Intercollegiate Athletics.” Such information is critical for chief executives and boards as they develop and implement the best policies for their institutions. In addition, it will enhance the ability of AGB and other organizations to advocate for appropriate board engagement in the oversight of intercollegiate athletics for the benefit of institutions, athletes, and higher education as a whole.

Following a Problematic, Yet Predictable, Path: The Unsustainable Nature of the Intercollegiate Athletics System

John Cheslock, Pennsylvania State University

This research project presents a theoretical model of the intercollegiate athletics system that emphasizes important processes driving expenditure growth that are often not recognized during policy deliberations. The model will enhance the general case for reform within athletics as well as for reform components such as the revenue distribution changes proposed in Restoring the Balance. It will also identify promising new directions for future reform efforts.

What’s At Our Core? NCAA Division I Voting Patterns vs. Student-Athlete Well-Being and the Amateurism Principle

Josephine R. Potuto, University of Nebraska; Connie Dillon, University of Oklahoma; David Clough, University of Colorado

This study will explore whether Division I (and its Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, and non-football Division I Subdivision) votes its principles. Voting within the FBS between conferences that are automatic qualifiers (AQs) in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and those that are not (non-AQs) will be reviewed. Driving the proposal is the belief that not enough currently is done for student-athlete well-being and that this failure affects the ability to defend amateurism through NCAA bylaws and in the perception of the public.

De-escalation of Commitment in Intercollegiate Athletics: An Investigation of Spending in Division I Universities

Adrien Bouchet, University of Tulsa, and Michael Hutchinson, Coastal Carolina University

The purpose of this study will be to examine de-escalation of spending in university athletic departments. There are two important reasons for studying this phenomenon. First, it will be meaningful to compile data on what university and athletic department personnel assert regarding the subject of de-escalating the “arms race” in intercollegiate athletics. Perhaps more important will be gaining insight into university stakeholders views on how to contain spending in the “arms race”. Second, identifying de-escalation strategies will be beneficial for institutions seeking to break the cycle of escalation regarding athletic spending.

Examining administrator and coach perceptions of value systems in NCAA Division I athletic departments

Coyte G. Cooper and Erianne A. Weight, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The current research will involve an online survey designed to gain an understanding of the core values that are emphasized when carrying out the mission of Division I athletic departments. Using an existing instrument with established reliability that was developed by the investigators, the study will survey the administrators and coaches at each of the NCAA Division I institutions to understand the organizational and aspirational values being emphasized within these departments.

Intercollegiate Athletics Leadership Database

Jennifer Hoffman, University of Washington

The purpose of this project is to continue development of an online database that allows the retrieval of longitudinal information about the people, intercollegiate athletics operations, and campus characteristics at a single institution or group of institutions in one location. The Intercollegiate Athletics Leadership Database is a searchable data source for individual and institutional information on Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) member institutions since 1991. This system addresses the need to inform how personnel decisions in the leadership of athletics shape the context for decision-making over the other operations in intercollegiate athletics.



Katie Lawson, Widmeyer Communications, 330.559.4754

About the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics

The Knight Commission 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 Commission’s goal is to promote a reform agenda that emphasizes academic values in a climate in which commercialization of college sports often overshadows the underlying goals of higher education. In June 2010, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics released its third major report, Restoring the Balance: Dollars, Values and the Future of College Sports. More information about the Commission including its prior reports can be found at

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more information, visit