Commission Proposes Limits on College Sports
Colleges with low graduation rates among athletes should be banned from postseason play, a commission said last month in chiding universities for putting too much emphasis on winning.
Under the plan proposed by the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, player uniforms would be stripped of corporate logos, and a new coalition of college presidents created to promote tougher academic standards.
“We’re not in the entertainment business, nor are we a minor league for professional sports,” says the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame and co-chairman of the commission.
After a series of hearings in 2000-2001, the commission found that the problems of college sports have worsened since 1991, when it issued a landmark report on student athletics that recommended placing control of athletics in the hands of college presidents.
About 42 percent of men’s basketball players and 48 percent of football players graduate from the major universities, according to the latest NCAA statistics.
“Your school is not worthy to be the champion of the country if you’re not educating your kids,” Hesburgh says.
The commission wants colleges to graduate at least half of the students who play in each sport. Teams with rates lower than that would be barred from conference championships and other postseason games.
NCAA President Cedric Dempsey says he has reservations about the threshold and that, instead, athletes should be required to maintain rates similar to those of other students at that particular school. Rates vary school by school. The average general student graduation rate is 56 percent, compared with 58 percent for all student athletes, including women, according to the NCAA.
Dempsey says most of the other commission recommendations tracked ideas the NCAA had been considering or has endorsed, including a prohibition against college sports betting in Nevada.
Other recommendations include: reallocating television revenue from the men’s NCAA Division I basketball tournament; encouraging the NBA and NFL to develop minor leagues; and creating a watchdog group to monitor big-time college sports programs.
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