Many Faculty Reps Attribute ‘Clustering’ to NCAA’s Academic Requirements

Grapevine, Tex.—A majority of faculty-athletics representatives at the nation’s biggest college sports programs say they believe athletes cluster in certain academic majors because of scheduling issues, and because of the NCAA’s progress-toward-degree requirements, according to the preliminary results of a forthcoming NCAA survey.

“That clearly is a concern,” said Michael Miranda, the NCAA’s associate director of research, who presented the early findings to faculty-athletics representatives from Football Bowl Subdivision programs gathered here for their annual meeting. “If people’s behaviors are being influenced by the rules that we’re writing … we have to look at them. We’re intrigued by that one, and we’ll take a closer look at that.”

The preliminary report is distilled from a broader NCAA survey of all faculty-athletics representatives, and included responses from more than two-thirds of all faculty reps at FBS institutions. The survey was conducted during the 2010-11 academic year and drew responses from 658 representatives across all three NCAA divisions. (Results of the full survey are expected to be published later this fall.)

In addition to polling faculty reps about athletes’ academic choices, the survey also solicited demographic details about the group.

At the FBS level, 64 percent of the respondents were male, and 90 percent were white. (Female faculty reps have increased by 10 percent since the last time the NCAA conducted this survey, in 2006.) All are tenured, and have worked, on average, 29 years in higher education. Their average length of service as a faculty rep was six years, but nearly 30 percent had served for two years or less—representing a high rate of turnover that Miranda said he found surprising, and that could have broader implications given the complexity of issues at the FBS level.

On the whole, the early findings showed that faculty reps spend most of their energy tending to academic matters, which consumed a little more than a third of their workload, and compliance and interpretation of NCAA rules, which represented just under a quarter. Athlete-welfare matters and administrative duties rounded out the demands.

Many faculty reps in the FBS receive monetary compensation and release time from teaching duties to perform their duties, the preliminary report showed: Forty-three percent of the respondents said they were compensated in some fashion, while just over half received release time. Twenty-eight percent received no form of compensation or recognition, monetary or otherwise, for their duties.

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