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
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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