By Ken Reed
The Drake Group, a national organization of college faculty, released a position statement today that is highly critical of a recent NCAA proposal which, if given formal approval, would allow the five richest conferences (“The Big Five”) in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision the freedom to make their own rules.
The Drake Group has called for a blue-ribbon commission be created to study the issue.
“Instead of providing cost of attendance scholarship increases and more benefits for all Division I athletes, the Big Five Power grab will result in extraordinary benefits to only those athletes in the richest athletic programs,” said Drake Group President Gerald Gurney, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Oklahoma.
“This will up the ante in the basketball/football Division I arms race. This concentration of wealth will also make it highly unlikely for lower tier institutions in the Football Bowl Subdivision to compete in the College Football Playoffs and tip the March madness competitive balance in favor of the Big Five Power Conferences.”
The Drake Group argues that pressure will be created on all other Division I institutions to funnel more resources into men’s basketball and football in order to try to remain competitive. These resources could come from increased student fees, elevated institutional fund subsidies, non-revenue sports budgets, or all three.
“The NCAA has demonstrated its inability to solve the financial and ethical problems faced by intercollegiate athletes,” said Drake Group Past President Allen Sack, professor of sport management in the College of Business at the University of New Haven. He added:
“The first priority on the use of significant media revenues should be the provision of full medical coverage and insurance, cost of attendance scholarship increases, an academic trust fund, adequate academic support, especially for those who are academically at-risk, and other benefits that enhance the education, health and welfare of the greatest number of college athletes, not just those at Big Five institutions.”
The Drake Group suggests that college presidents should vote to override the Big Five’s ill-conceived power grab legislation and call for the U.S. secretary of education to ask President Barack Obama to establish a blue-ribbon Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics to explore alternatives that would address economic stability, academic integrity and professionalism issues.
Presidential involvement in intercollegiate athletics is not unprecedented. President Teddy Roosevelt hosted a summit at the White House with college officials to talk about unsportsmanlike behavior and violence on the football field. During the summit he pushed for radical rule changes. Several months later, the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (the forerunner to the NCAA) was formed and major rule changes were soon implemented.
The Drake Group’s mission is to defend academic integrity in higher education from the corrosive aspects of commercialized college sports.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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