Most College Presidents Believe Sports Scandals Taint Higher Ed.
Here's something to consider, if you've got the NCAA tournament on the brain: Nearly 70 percent of college and university presidents believe that recent athletic scandals at the college level have hurt all of higher education, according to a recent survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed.
Given the number of high-profile college sports scandals that emerged in the past few years—from the alleged pay-for-play scheme around former Auburn quarterback (and Heisman Trophy winner) Cam Newton, to the alleged child-molestation scandals involving a Penn State assistant football coach and an assistant basketball coach for Syracuse University—a number of schools have been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
If schools get more sensitive to sketchy character backgrounds, it could have serious implications for future college athletes. Presidents who get gun shy about becoming the next Auburn or University of Miami could instruct coaches and athletic departments to stay away from recruiting prospects with criminal backgrounds, instead opting for "high-character" types.
Inside Higher Ed surveyed 1,002 college and university presidents (including 122 from NCAA Division I schools) about their opinions on college sports. Out of all the presidents surveyed, 67.8 percent said they believed major sports scandals harm the reputation of all of higher education. That figure rose to 79.8 percent for the 122 Division I presidents.
Furthermore, 75 percent of all presidents replied that colleges and universities "spend way too much money on intercollegiate athletic programs." Interestingly enough, when asked about their own institutions, only 14.9 percent of the presidents surveyed said that they spent too much on sports.
Alarmingly, 86.9 percent of the presidents surveyed did not agree with the statement: "The presidents of big-time athletic programs are in control of their programs." As you might expect, there was a massive discrepancy in the percentage of NCAA Division I presidents who agreed (25 percent) compared with presidents of other public and private four-year institutions (10.6 percent) and community colleges (10.7 percent).
There's a glass-hall-full or glass-half-empty way to look at this next finding, so let's take the half-full approach: 51.8 percent of presidents disagreed that scandals were inevitable in big-time college athletics.
In addition, nearly 75 percent of the presidents did not think government intervention was necessary to fix big-time college athletics.
In another example of the "anywhere but here" mentality the presidents reflected, 52.1 percent said they felt "confident" that the sports scandals of this past year couldn't occur at their school. Yet only two-thirds of the presidents said they felt confident that "without question," their board would support them if a conflict arose with athletic officials.
One sign that athletic corruption likely isn't making its way to the top of higher education: Only a fraction of the presidents said they felt pressure, internal or external, to "look the other way" at serious problems with certain athletic programs.
Then again, wouldn't a college president be the last place that a troubled coach turns? There's no going back after that decision.
So, while television revenues from the NCAA tournament bring a plethora of riches to college and university athletic departments, the people in charge appear less than thrilled with some of the seedier aspects of college athletics.
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