Resolution on the Role of Intercollegiate Athletics in an Academic Environment (June 6, 2003)

The Faculty Council of the University of Missouri-Columbia recognizes that intercollegiate athletics can provide an important enhancement to the life and spirit of an academic community. Participation in committed athletic training and competition can be deeply rewarding as a field of personal excellence, fostering character through discipline, team membership, and the mutual respect expressed in fair play. Skilled coaches can offer outstanding leadership to college athletes and exemplify standards of dedication, expertise, and sportsmanship that complement and enrich the academic mission.

Nevertheless, the MU Faculty Council shares the increasing concern regarding the commercialization of high profile intercollegiate athletics, as highlighted in a statement (November 2, 2001) by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (a group including universities of the Big Ten Conference and the University of Chicago).

Accordingly, the MU Faculty Council believes that each institution of higher education should aspire to address the impact of commercialization of intercollegiate athletics by (a) endorsing principles similar to those listed below, (b) carefully reviewing the institution¿s status relative to each principle, (c) working to bring about changes, if necessary, and (d) engaging in dialogue with other institutions about this matter on an ongoing basis.

Therefore, the MU Faculty Council endorses the following principles:

  1. College athletes are students first, and their college experience must be as full participants in the student community.
    1. Academic support structures for athletes must be fully integrated in university-wide programs, so that academic expectations and services are as robust for athletes as for other students.
    2. Athletes whose academic profiles upon admission indicate that they face unusually strong challenges for academic success should not be eligible for varsity competition during their freshman year.
    3. The term of athletics scholarships should be extended beyond one-year grants-in-aid so that students' academic opportunities are not contingent on non-academic effort.
    4. Every attempt should be made to minimize conflicts between athletics and regular academic schedules, and wherever possible sports seasons should be confined within a single academic term.
  2. The goals of intercollegiate athletics and commercial sports are different. Blurring that distinction puts the true success of intercollegiate athletics at risk.
    1. Inappropriate aspects of commercialization must be reduced. Examples of actions that should be taken include limiting the times and days when games are played, the number of breaks in games for commercials, the type and prevalence of advertising in stadiums and arenas, and the non-university logos worn by players and coaches.
    2. The "arms race" of intercollegiate athletics must be scaled back.
    3. Sharing of revenue, beyond costs, from post-season bowl and tournament events within conferences and divisions should be expanded to maintain competitiveness and discourage over-reliance on winning for financial stability.
  3. Athletics should not be subsidized by the academic side of the institution. Athletics departments should operate under the same principles of budget accountability that characterize other units.
  4. Required informational reports on intercollegiate athletics should be given regularly and at least annually to the entire faculty senate of each institution, providing pertinent information on intercollegiate athletics and its relationship to the academic and financial welfare of the institution, in accord with customary "sunshine" standards.
Finally, the MU Faculty Council commends the MU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics for its efforts to conform to these principles and invites that department to join the Faculty Council in affirming these principles.

 

Version 6/6/03