By Ken Reed
As college sports increasingly became all about the money the past 50 years, the Ivy League, for the most part, remained a Division I conference that put academics above wins and dollars. However, during the past decade, that philosophy has slowly eroded, as win-at-all-costs (WAAC) and profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) thinking and actions have become more prevalent in the storied Ancient Eight sports conference.
In recent years, numerous accusations have been tossed Harvard’s way regarding loosening entrance requirements for athletes, especially for the school’s successful men’s basketball program. (Recent ESPN basketball recruiting rankings have Harvard ranked 10th, one spot behind basketball factory North Carolina.) Other Ivy schools have faced similar charges. Ivy League schools also started increasingly accommodating television networks by playing more “money” games on school nights, sacrificing study time for their athletes.
The commercialization of the Ivy League has picked up steam in recent months. It appears Ivy League administrators have decided to completely sell out their principles and join big-time colleges and universities around the country in the giant college sports money grab.
Earlier this month, Yale and Under Armour announced a partnership deal reported to be worth $16.5 million over 10 years. That’s more than Big Ten schools Illinois and Rutgers make from their Nike deals. Approximately, $2.5 million of the Yale agreement is targeted for “marketing activation.”
“It’s a deal that could become the norm for Ivy League schools, but it also underscores an old tension,” wrote Alexander Wolff in the January 25th issue of Sports Illustrated.
“College sports sees its mission as higher education, except when it sees its mission as making money. Time will tell whether Yale is honorably pursuing both.”
The history of college sports would tell you that the safe bet is against Yale doing that.
For years, the Ivy League refused to create a money-making postseason hoops tournament to determine the league’s representative in the NCAA basketball tournament. The feeling was that the long regular season was the best way to determine the top team in the league. Plus, a postseason tournament was seen as detracting from the athletes’ academic pursuits. However, according to recent reports, the Ivy League is close to implementing a four-team conference tournament starting in 2016-17.
Moreover, the Ivy League recently reached an agreement with JMI Sports to serve as “the League’s official marketing rights agency” to target “elite regional, national and international brands.”
A look at recent money-based developments makes it clear that the importance of higher education in the Ivy League is gradually, but steadily, dropping.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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