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Knight Commission, Panelists Call for Stronger Focus on Educational Mission in College Sports

[Sessions and video with experts on academic reforms; NCAA governance; and well-being of athletes]

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics heard passionate dialogue during a meeting here on a range of issues facing college sports, particularly issues of academics and well-being for college athletes. The Commission also announces latest update to its athletic and academic spending database

Growing Impact of High Financial Stakes in College Sports Highlighted at Knight Commission Meeting

[Sessions and audio with researchers about the role of athletics relating to institutional finances, student tuition and fees ]

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics met in Washington, D.C. to hear research reports from higher education experts and scholars that reaffirmed the need for different policy approaches and stronger board oversight in college sports.

Research findings highlighted the widening divide in college sports between the “haves” and “have-nots,” and its potential impact on institutional finances, student tuition and fees. The divide also reveals itself in votes on NCAA rules that impact athlete well-being, academic standards and “the collegiate model.”

Knight Commission Calls for Examination of College Sports Governance, While Recognizing NCAA Steps Toward Reform

[Sessions and audio with NCAA President Mark Emmert; discussion of Knight Commission's governance concerns and calls for academic eligibility for postseason]

Amid a growing sense of crisis in college sports, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics heard evidence that the challenges colleges face are beyond the scope of current reform efforts. The Commission applauded the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s recent progress, and urged the speedy enactment of many of its proposed reforms. At the same time, the Commission said these steps alone would not ensure the integrity of sports in higher education, and emphasized the underlying drivers of conference realignment and other accelerating trends. Specifically, the Commission noted the influx in coming years of almost $14 billion in renegotiated television contracts, primarily for regular-season football, to the five richest conferences. The Commission will pursue transparency and accountability measures to ensure that these funds are used to further institutions’ educational missions and not simply to increase athletic expenditures. The Commission also will assess the complicated relationships among the NCAA, the Bowl Championship Series, Division I conferences, and their member institutions. In particular, the Commission will examine the impact of changing conferences primarily to increase revenue for football, and the impact such changes have on other sports. The Commission also announced six grants totaling $100,000 to independent scholars to study policy issues in intercollegiate athletics, with results of their studies to be released in October 2012.

First of Its Kind Survey Reveals Dilemma of Reform

[Sessions and video on presidential survey; experts on educational values and commercial landscape of college sports]

The Knight Commission released the results of a presidential survey on the costs and benefits of intercollegiate athletics. An interactive, Web-based report, College Sports 101, that provides an overview of the business and economic landscape of college sports was also released. Potential solutions as well as an assessment of whether the current structure is equipped to address the mounting challenges were discussed with experts.

Knight Commission Urges College Leaders to Consider Bold, Innovative Solutions to Address Fiscal Health of College Sports

[Sessions and audio with experts on college sports finances; sport participation; and tax-exempt status of college sports]

The financial crisis in college sports isn’t attributable only to the ongoing recession, but also to declining athletics revenues unable to keep up with a runaway train of spending. That’s what members of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics heard from scholars and experts on higher education and intercollegiate sports.