May 23, 2013, 10:17 pm
After reading my post this week about safety concerns on a charter flight taken by Stanford University’s softball team, Mark Lewis took it upon himself to look into the matter.
Mr. Lewis, the NCAA’s executive vice president for championships and alliances, oversees the staff that arranges postseason travel for all 89 championships, and he was disturbed by what he found—but not because of the airplane’s safety record.
He was bothered by what he saw as an inaccurate portrayal of the airplane (pictured above) and a misrepresentation of the association’s track record of providing safe travel. He also dismissed the notion, also raised in the article, that cost considerations dictate decisions involving NCAA-scheduled travel.
The airplane in question, which a Stanford official had described as a “rickety old prop plane” without enough room to carry the team’s equipment, actually has…
May 20, 2013, 2:57 pm
As Stanford University was wrapping up play this weekend in an NCAA regional softball tournament in Nebraska, Cardinal officials got on the phone with the NCAA to arrange a flight back to Palo Alto, Calif.
Their job: Get their 30 or so players and staff members home as quickly and safely as possible following their last game on Sunday, as thunderstorms were rolling through the Midwest.
The NCAA, which covers the cost of travel for teams during its postseason championships, lined up a charter flight to get the Stanford women back in time for classes on Monday. That seemed like good news for team members, until they saw the plane.
If you assume “charter” means first-class travel, let this tweet from Stanford’s Kevin Blue disabuse you of that idea:
Hard to believe that @NCAA sent us on a prop plane for a 4.5 hr flight from Nebraska to San Jose (!). In Grand Junction, CO getting…
May 20, 2013, 10:00 am
A few weeks ago, when my colleague Jonah Newman and I reported on colleges’ reluctant adoption of multiyear athletic scholarships, we avoided going into detail about one concern that several critics raised.
“The bigger failure is not that the school isn’t adopting” multiyear aid, John Infante, a former compliance officer at Colorado State University, told us, “but that we’re not seeing this market develop where kids know there is the potential for multiyear scholarships and negotiating for that.”
Now there’s more evidence that students aren’t getting the message. As part of a separate report on the distribution of multiyear aid in big-time athletics, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interviewed 30 people who could benefit from the longer scholarships, including recruits and coaches. Only 12 of them knew that the awards existed.
Six of the eight Penn State University football…
May 16, 2013, 4:57 am
Shortly after Rutgers University named Julie Hermann as its next athletics director on Wednesday, I got a note from my colleague Libby Sander. She reminded me of a candid conversation she had with Ms. Hermann two years ago for her analysis of the scarcity of female athletic directors in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision.
Ms. Hermann, a longtime No. 2 at the University of Louisville who has helped drive that athletic department’s fast growth, will become one of only five female ADs among the 125 FBS programs. For those of you keeping score, that’s 4 percent of positions at the NCAA’s elite level—the same meager number we reported two years ago.
There are plenty of reasons so few women have cracked the glass ceiling in college sports, including a stubborn old-boys’ network that dictates many hiring decisions. Here’s more from our 2011 report:
Some critics say women are often by…
May 10, 2013, 1:15 pm
The lead article in the latest issue of the Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics has a thoughtful blueprint for improving the NCAA’s controversial judicial system.
On the heels of the NCAA’s missteps in the University of Miami investigation, and its questionable actions against Pennsylvania State University, many people have floated ideas for tweaking the association’s punitive process. Most of those suggestions, however, lack the specificity of this plan.
The ideas come from Christian S. Dennie, a lawyer and adjunct professor at Texas Wesleyan University’s School of Law, and Gerald S. Gurney, an assistant professor of adult and higher education at the University of Oklahoma and a former president of the National Association of Academic Advisers for Athletics. Their article, “Rethinking Penn State Sanctions and Executive Authority,” appears in a special issue of the…
May 10, 2013, 11:00 am
This infographic from Deadspin pretty well speaks for itself, but the publication’s cheeky analysis is worth a read as well.
Based on data drawn from media reports and state salary databases, the ranks of the highest-paid active public employees include 27 college football coaches, 13 basketball coaches, one hockey coach, and 10 dorks who aren’t even in charge of a team.
May 3, 2013, 4:04 pm
The NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors announced on Thursday that it was rolling back one of several changes in the association’s new initial-eligibility requirements for freshman athletes, a move that is drawing concern from some faculty members.
First proposed in the fall of 2011, the changes were designed to stiffen the academic requirements for incoming athletes, including raising the minimum grade-point average and corresponding standardized-test scores, and sharpening the rules governing core courses in high school. Players who failed to meet the new standards, which are set to go into effect in 2016, could have to sit out their first year of competition.
But based on the board’s action on Thursday, fewer of those low-performing athletes are likely to have to sit out.
While the board approved a requirement for an increased grade-point average (to 2.3 from 2.0) and…
April 12, 2013, 11:32 am
To what extent can coaches use negative tactics to motivate athletes? And what impact does that approach have on coaches’ credibility?
Those questions, which have taken on new meaning in the aftermath of the Mike Rice firing at Rutgers University, are the subject of research to be published this summer in the International Journal of Sport Communication.
The main takeaway: Verbally aggressive language doesn’t work, even in an environment where athletes have been conditioned to expect it, the researchers found.
According to the study, which focused on feedback from 130 Division I college athletes, players who were exposed to a verbally aggressive coach reported significantly less motivation to perform, and viewed such coaches as significantly less competent, than did athletes who played for coaches with a more affirming style.
“This study shows that extra amounts of verbal…
April 10, 2013, 4:58 am
When Mark Emmert gathered together more than 50 college presidents nearly two years ago to discuss ideas for reforming big-time sports, the group came to a pretty clear consensus on the need to increase aid to athletes.
With big money flowing in from TV contracts, and increasing amounts going toward coaches’ salaries and facilities, the idea of allowing Division I colleges to direct up to $2,000 more a year to certain players seemed to make sense.
But after a series of failed attempts to carry out the proposal, the NCAA is essentially back to the drawing board. The group charged with reviving the plan intends to gather feedback on a new set of ideas this summer, with the hope of gaining the approval of the Division I Board of Directors in October.
In some ways, the issue has become a referendum on Mr. Emmert, whose attempts to get things done quickly have alienated certain…
April 8, 2013, 1:51 pm
The firing of Mike Rice as head men’s basketball coach at Rutgers University last week, and the leadership fallout that ensued, illustrates a challenge that many athletic departments seem hard-pressed to solve: Who’s in charge of sports?
In the case of Rutgers, the university appeared to have too many cooks in the kitchen, which partly explains its failure to fire Mr. Rice for repeatedly physically and verbally abusing players. The broader failure here is that few programs foster an environment in which athletic directors have the authority to act.
Tim Pernetti, who resigned as the university’s athletic director on Friday, said he wanted to fire the coach last year after viewing a video of him kicking, shoving, and screaming at players. Instead, he said, a bunch of lawyers and human-resources people got involved, the university commissioned an independent report, and Mr. Rice was a…