To the Editor:
“NCAA’s Tolerance for Dissenting Views at Its Academic Forum Appears in Doubt” (The Chronicle, December 11) highlights the uncertain future of the Scholarly Colloquium in response to what National Collegiate Athletic Association spokesmen describe as “one sided,” ideologically-based criticism directed at the organization. I strongly support the contention that there is no legitimate connection between commercially-driven collegiate sports programs and serious academic pursuits.
Where to begin? Factors such as coaches’ compensation packages exceeding those of university presidents, dubious accounting, and an impressive array of fraudulent academic practices illustrate the contradictions between the goals of academia and high-powered Division 1 college athletics. This reality elevates to the absurd any notion that autonomous, commercially-driven athletic programs are compatible with the mission of academe.
Over the past 45 years, we have witnessed the following developments: (1) the 1972 NCAA rule giving coaches the prerogative to annually renew or terminate athletic scholarships; (2) freshmen eligibility to compete on varsity teams; (3) routine acceptance of athletes with deficient high-school test scores and academic records; (4) basketball seasons that increase the number of games from under 30 to 39; (5) football seasons that rival the NFL; (6) a plethora of mid-week away games; (7) ubiquitous musical-chair arrangements of prominent colleges joining and leaving established conferences; and (8) an increase in the number of times broadcasters feel compelled to use the ideological construct “student athlete” when describing players, which further promotes the fraudulent coupling of these two unrelated activities.
The NCAA’s threat to sever financial support for the Scholarly Colloquium should be viewed as a positive that, if implemented, will provide much needed intellectual distance from a commercially-driven organization with objectives and practices antithetical to the mission of academia.
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Montclair State University