Rutgers University Senate
Academic Standards, Regulations and Admissions Committee (ASRAC)
Endorsement of the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA) Framework
February 2004
 
 

Original Charge (S-0322): "Consider the Coalition On Intercollegiate Athletics' (COIA) request for endorsement of its Framework for Comprehensive Athletics Reform, and prepare a response which could be brought before the University Senate for formal endorsement."

[Note:  On February 2, 2004, the Senate received from Bob Eno, co-chair of the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, an e-mail clarifying the implications and request for endorsement of the COIA framework.  Click here to read the text of the e-mail.]

The Committee recommends that the University Senate adopt the following statement:

Understanding that the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics was formed to address nationwide issues regarding college athletics, the University Senate endorses the COIA Framework for Comprehensive Athletics Reform as a useful contribution to discussions at schools and conferences about the future direction of intercollegiate athletics.

Need for Proposal

The Coalition (or COIA, as we'll call it) was formed in 2002 as a network of faculty leaders from over 50 Division I-A schools.  (Division I-A schools are those that participate in major football conferences, such as the Big East. These schools tend to have major basketball programs, major programs in other sports.) COIA was established as a way to contribute to the momentum  for reform of intercollegiate athletics activities.  Its purpose is to articulate a broad national faculty voice in support of reform efforts and to work with similar groups (e.g.,  the AAUP and the NCAA).  For an example of its collaboration with other organizations, see http://www.math.umd.edu/%7Ejmc/COIA/Alliance.html.  COIA has been active on athletic issues; for instance, it released a statement last summer criticizing the Atlantic Coast Conference for expanding at the expense of the Big East Conference, the conference to which Rutgers belongs.

COIA is directed by a steering committee of twelve members, nominated by faculty members in each conference.  The steering committee now consists of:

Bob Eno, past Senate President, Indiana Univ., Bloomington (co-chair)
Jim Earl, past Senate President, Univ. of Oregon (co-chair)
Joel Cohen, Senate Chair, Univ. of Maryland
Phil DiStefano, Faculty Athletics Rep., Univ. of Colorado, Boulder
Gary Engstrand, Secretary to the Faculty, Univ. of Minnesota
Michael Granof, past Faculty Council Chair, Univ. of Texas
Ed Lawry, Faculty Council Chair, Oklahoma St. Univ.
John Nicols, past Senate Chair, Penn. State Univ.
Curt Rom, Senate Chair, Univ. of Arkansas
Ginny Shepherd, past Senate Chair, Vanderbilt Univ.
Kathleen Smith, Faculty Athletics Rep., Duke Univ.
Mike Wasylenko, Faculty Athletics Rep., Syracuse Univ.
For more information on the Coalition, see its web site: http://www.math.umd.edu/~jmc/COIA/COIA-Home.html.
Last summer, COIA released a Framework for Comprehensive Athletic Reform to articulate its goals.  The Framework consists of an Executive Summary and Report. Both can be found at http://www.math.umd.edu/%7Ejmc/COIA/Framework.html.  For your convenience, we have set out the Executive Summary as an appendix to this report.  As you can see, the COIA framework stresses academic integrity, athlete welfare, finances, governance, and over-commercialization.

COIA has requested that faculty governing bodies endorse the resolution.  The Executive Committee therefore referred the matter to ASRAC for its consideration.

ASRAC has discussed this matter at length.  The overwhelming majority of members believe that the Framework identifies most of the key issues in intercollegiate sports, makes many excellent points about the directions that should be taken, and  that the Framework is a genuine contribution to the debate about the future direction of intercollegiate athletics.  Therefore, we believe that the Senate should endorse the statement we propose above.

ASRAC extensively discussed what it means to endorse the report.  The full Framework contains detailed recommendations that the Senate might not necessarily agree with.  In addition, the Framework makes numerous statements about the undesirable practices of some schools.  ASRAC heard from Professor Thomas Stephens, the New Brunswick campusís Faculty Academic Representative to the NCAA.  Professor Stephens told us that these practices do not occur at Rutgers or are being remedied.  For instance, the Framework expresses concern about schools that take away athletic scholarships from student-athletes who have been cut from the team or whose eligibility has ended.  Professor Stephens informed us that Rutgers continues the scholarships of student-athletes as long as they adhere to rules of good conduct (set forth by each team, the athletics department, and the university) and continue to have academic success.  In addition, the Rutgers [Athletic Department] regularly supports [student athletes] so that they can finish the requirements for their degree even beyond their eligibility.

COIA itself recognizes these concerns.  The Framework acknowledges that some Senates may have reservations about endorsing the whole of the document.  In transmitting the Framework in August, Professor Jim Earl of the University of Oregon, COIAís co-chair, wrote that:

Any message we receive that conveys an endorsement of the general Coalition approach and approves active faculty leadership participation in the Coalition will suffice.
He has reiterated this since. Professor Earl recently e-mailed one of our co-chairs that:
Endorsement of the Framework doesn't in any way imply that your school is in need of particular reforms . . . Membership in COIA incurs no costs or any obligation to reform any practices.  It merely opens the dialogue on campus in the framework of the national situation.  The very idea of asking how close or how far our local practices are from a national ideal can be extremely helpful.  Being part of COIA gives you a national perspective to frame local issues.
ASRAC believes that such an endorsement is valuable to both Rutgers and to the aims that the Coalition seeks to realize, and therefore we strongly recommend its endorsement.

Eleven members of ASRAC voted for the recommendation.  Four did not.  At least one did so out of philosophical disagreement with the thrust of the COIA report.  Other members of ASRAC noted that COIA had asked for endorsement by a faculty body, and therefore urged that the Senate -- which, of course, includes students, administrators and alumni as well -- was not an appropriate forum for an endorsement.  It was also noted that Newark and Camden have their own athletic programs -- neither, unlike New Brunswick, is a Division I school, and so action on behalf of the whole of Rutgers would be inappropriate.

The majority of members, however, felt that the Senate is an appropriate body to endorse this framework, precisely because it is representative of the entire Rutgers community, and because the issue concerns the whole of Rutgers, not just faculty at an individual campus.

In sum, ASRAC recommends that the University Senate vote to approve the endorsement statement that we present today.  The Committee believes that a vote in favor of our resolution will be a strong signal that Rutgers recognizes the need for further exploration of the means to ensure that intercollegiate athletics are undertaken in a way that is consistent with the mission of a University like Rutgers.
 



Appendix:  Executive Summary of COIA Framework

Reform of intercollegiate athletics is an urgent priority.  Successful reform will require a broad consensus and a comprehensive approach.  Some issues may be resolved quickly, others may require much more time, but national agreement on a comprehensive plan in the near future is essential to accomplish meaningful reform; the piecemeal approach has not succeeded.  The COIA Framework, aimed at Division I-A, outlines essential features such a plan should include, and calls for the NCAA and national academic constituencies to develop detailed, appropriately flexible strategies for implementation.  The goal of reform is not negative; it is to bring out the positive aspects of intercollegiate athletics, which contribute to the personal development of athletes and enhance college life on campus and off.

Academic Integrity:  Colleges should admit only students with realistic prospects of graduation.  Admissions practices should confirm that high schools must prepare athletes to meet such standards.  Continuing eligibility standards should ensure that only academically engaged students compete in athletics.  Faculty must take responsibility to ensure academic integrity in all programs.  Athletics advisors must be closely integrated with academic advising to ensure prioritization of academic goals and integrity.

Athlete Welfare:  The design and enforcement of limits on athlete participation in non-academic activities must be improved; assessment of coaches must reflect commitment to athletesí academic opportunities.  Optimal season schedules for each sport should be designed and adopted.  The terms and bases of scholarships should be re-examined so as to support student academics, and athletes should be fully integrated into campus life.

Governance:  Shared oversight of athletics between governing boards, administrations, and faculty should involve clear communication and complementary responsibilities.  Best-practice designs for the interaction of faculty athletics representatives, campus athletics committees, and faculty governance should be designed nationally, and adapted locally.  Uniform reporting standards for athletics budgets should be established, to provide more financial transparency.  Stable athletics conferences should support the linkage of athletics and academics, and become the basis for intercollegiate relationships beyond athletics competitions and finances.

Finances:  The link between winning and financial solvency undermines the values of college sports and contributes to the athletics arms race.  Broadened revenue sharing, and limits on budgets and capital expenditures should be implemented.  Amateur goals appropriate to each sport should determine standards of expectations.  Cost cutting in the areas of scholarships, squad size, season length, and recruitment should be explored.

Over-commercialization:  Excesses in marketing college sports impair institutional control and contribute to public misperception of the nature and purpose of higher education.  Schools must step back from over-commercialization by cutting costs and setting clear standards of institutional control and public presentation of college sports.