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Faculty Group Urges NCAA to Convene Summit on Athletics Oversight

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, allows faculty to speak with independence not practically available to others.”

The letter includes a handful of ideas for strengthening the role of faculty in athletics governance. Among the coalition’s suggestions are for universities to:

  • Create a new campus-level “academic integrity group,” to be led by a tenured faculty member, whose charge would include setting new policy on athletics matters that bear on academic integrity, monitoring the college’s creation of such policies, and providing the NCAA with an annual report detailing its work.
  • Establish a “senate athletics representative,” to be appointed by the faculty governance body, whose responsibilities would include reviewing the faculty’s due diligence over athletics.
  • Offer those senate athletics representatives opportunities to meet with colleagues in their conferences to review the work of their policy-making committees on matters concerning academic integrity and other issues.
  • Strengthen the Football Bowl Subdivision faculty-athletics representatives association, which the coalition described as “an established and effective forum for information sharing and a faculty voice at the national level.”

The coalition’s suggestions are early-stage ideas meant to spur a conversation about athletics governance in the newly deregulated world, said Robert Eno, an associate professor of East Asian languages and cultures at Indiana University at Bloomington, who helped write the proposals.

“We see this as an opportunity to bring faculty more centrally into the decision making in intercollegiate athletics,” he said. “The role of faculty on campus has slipped below the optimal level.”

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