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 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 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…
April 6, 2013, 7:48 pm
Atlanta — To hear many people tell it, the NCAA has never faced a bigger set of challenges. That’s not exactly the view of Cedric Dempsey, who I caught up with ahead of this evening’s national semifinals.
Mr. Dempsey, who served as the NCAA’s president from 1994 to 2003, handled a few high-profile crises during his tenure. And he points to moments in the 1970s and 1980s when the association faced significant legal disputes and internal squabbles that he believes rival those of today.
One big change that happened on his watch was a restructuring of Division I governance, in the late 1990s, a move that caused much angst.
“When we changed to a more representative system of governance—and away from the one-school, one-vote model—it disenfranchised a lot of people from the process,” he says. “I think some of the concerns you’re seeing today relate back to that decision.”
April 4, 2013, 4:55 am
Atlanta — March Madness has long been one of the most anticipated events on the NCAA calendar, culminating in a weekend-long celebration enjoyed by thousands. But this year, the glow around the game is not as bright, a reflection of a mixed set of challenges the association faces.
This week, much of the buzz has centered around Mike Rice, the former men’s basketball coach at Rutgers University, who was fired on Wednesday after ESPN released a startling video of him kicking and berating players. While some coaches say the Rutgers situation is extreme, it has has raised questions about the culture of basketball and what some say is an imbalance of power between big-money programs and their players.
The association has its own problems. Two summers ago, NCAA leaders were struggling to find adjectives strong enough to describe a spate of scandals at the highest level. This year Mark …
March 6, 2013, 4:56 am
Many colleges have clarified the responsibilities of faculty athletics representatives in recent years, a step that some observers say could provide professors with increased authority in monitoring academic integrity in big-time athletic departments.
That is among the key findings in a report, released on Tuesday by the NCAA, that paints a detailed picture of faculty reps and provides fresh insight into several neglected areas of study, including the world of “special admits” and athlete clustering.
The report, “Roles, Responsibilities, and Perspectives of NCAA Faculty Athletics Representatives,” is based on a 2011 survey of some 650 faculty reps across all three NCAA divisions. More than half of all NCAA faculty reps responded, a significant improvement over a previous study, in 2005.
For years, many NCAA colleges have denied having special admissions policies for athletes….
March 4, 2013, 4:56 am
Washington — Gordon Gee, who has arguably survived as many controversies as any college president, had a few words of advice on Sunday for Mark Emmert, the embattled NCAA leader.
“Stay the course,” the Ohio State University president urged his former colleague, who has faced criticism in recent weeks over ethical lapses by the NCAA’s enforcement staff and broader concerns about his management style.
“It’s a very fragile time right now for college athletics,” Mr. Gee said. “Mark is reaping the reward of being very aggressive, and also the whirlwind of being very aggressive.”
Mr. Gee was one of more than 50 college leaders to attend a presidential summit organized by Mr. Emmert in August 2011, where the NCAA chief was urged to take big swings at problems in the game.
“There was a real push to do something quickly,” Mr. Gee said. “But the net result was that we got ahead of…
February 20, 2013, 10:56 pm
Calls for Mark Emmert’s resignation have grown louder in the past 48 hours, following the release of a report that sharply criticized the association’s investigation of the University of Miami.
On Tuesday the NCAA delivered its long-awaited notice of allegations against the Hurricanes, charging the university with a lack of institutional control for reportedly allowing Nevin Shapiro, a longtime booster and convicted Ponzi-scheme operator, to run wild over its program.
Remarkably, some critics argue, the NCAA failed to interview Paul Dee, Miami’s former athletic director, before issuing the charges. Mr. Dee, who was the university’s general counsel before taking over as AD, died last May, nine months after the NCAA began its official investigation.
Until recently, Donna Shalala, Miami’s president, had been silent on the accusations, which include Mr. Shapiro’s paying tens of…
February 15, 2013, 4:55 am
As the NCAA begins to reduce its role in the regulation of big-time sports, a powerful group of faculty-senate leaders is urging the association to convene a national summit to discuss broad changes in the oversight of athletics.
The group—the Steering Committee of the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, which includes some 60 universities that play sports at the NCAA’s highest level—wants faculty members more involved in creating and enforcing campus athletics policies, and believes professors should have a greater voice at the NCAA and conference levels.
“Faculty engagement in athletics governance must play a critical role in this new deregulated world,” the group wrote in a five-page letter to the NCAA on Thursday. “Faculty maintain a unique commitment to academic standards that will support values adherence, and the institution of tenure, on campuses where it is granted…