SBD/October 10, 2012/Colleges

Report Calls For College Board Members To Take On Larger Role In Athletics Policies

A report released yesterday calling for university governors and trustees “to take a more active role in the governance of college athletics should serve as a call to action for governing boards that have for too long failed to look closely enough at the inner workings of what has become a multi-billion-dollar industry,” according to Luke DeCock of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. The report, entitled “Trust, Accountability and Integrity: Board Responsibilities for College Athletics,” was released by the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities. It “states forcefully that university governing boards are ‘ultimately accountable for athletics policy and oversight’ and that they should ‘act decisively to uphold the integrity of the athletics program and its alignment with the academic mission of the institution.’” DeCock: “Or, translated to common language: Get your butts in gear and start paying attention, ladies and gentlemen. Your reputations are on the line.” The AGB report, released at a meeting of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics in DC, also “calls for boards to look more closely at the NCAA itself, which isn’t exempt from criticism.” The report states, “Perhaps the NCAA, in its failure to clarify the role of board oversight of athletics, also fails to recognize where institutional authority ultimately lies.” DeCock writes the report “makes clear that it’s not only imperative to reassert university control of athletics, it’s going to have to start at the top and it’s going to take some unpopular policies to do it” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 10/10). The AGB recommended that boards should “establish policies to govern athletics and be accountable for them; act decisively to uphold the integrity of the athletics program and its alignment with the academic mission of the institution; and educate themselves about their policies and responsibilities on an annual basis” (USA TODAY, 10/10).

WEIGHING IN: Former Univ. of Virginia President and AGB Project Dir John Casteen said, "The boards that do things right aren't the ones that end up on Page 1.” On Long Island, John Jeansonne notes the report was one of “six during the Knight session that addressed ethical, commercial and academic challenges raised by the arms race of big-time college sports." The report stated that "only half of colleges surveyed had a board policy on athletics, roughly half had a policy of protection of minors," and only 35% of the boards said that they "received sufficient information with regard to NCAA rules.” Casteen said, “I wouldn't expect the Knight Commission to jump right on the advice we've given about expecting board members to be more competent players, and more active. But the response, in more than 90 percent of the cases, went in the direction we're suggesting" (NEWSDAY, 10/10).
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