A few years ago ESPN used television and the internet to engage in a discussion about the state of college athletics. Below is my contribution to that discussion via their internet forum. As college athletics seems to be in the news more and more these days, I thought I would copy and post my suggestion to “fix” college athletics for what it’s worth.
Here it is…
Problem: Educational values have been at odds with athletic values for well over 100 years in this country. College athletics has lowered educational values and influenced educational leaders in unfortunate ways.
Solution: Separate education and athletics! Convert athletic programs to not-for-profit entities in the communities they serve. Write not-for-profit by-laws to work out the details of athlete eligibility to include academic pursuits. Adopt a community 2 board structure as such: a Board of Directors to vote on strategic agenda only (think Executive Branch), an Officer Board for operational (i.e. “day-to-day” management) agenda only (think Legislative Branch). Now, if you’re wondering about the Judicial Branch, think IRS scrutiny! The IRS is very clear regarding violations and punishment for the leaders of not-for-profit organizations.
Benefits and Advantages: Educational leaders can better concentrate on the educational mission. If each not-for-profit athletic entity cannot get the support from a community to survive with adequate funding, leadership, and compliance then the whole program, or a certain sport, will fail. In other words, the community or “market”, if you will, will decide what it values enough to sustain. Again, the educational leaders are left to concentrate on the educational mission.
Third-party influence for amateur athletes: Individuals such as “street” agents, advisers and the like CAN NOT be eliminated nor should they be! Athletes and their families are busy and DO NOT understand the nuances of roster decisions, depth charts, head and assistant coach contracts, etc. on top of evaluating other relevant values, like academics. Basically, third-party influence is present because there is a demand from athletes and their families for personal dedicated assistance to make a decision that they feel is in their best interest. Furthermore, let us not forget the inherent conflicts of interest that coaches have. The notion that a coach can give unbiased advice to an athlete he/she is recruiting is not realistic.