Panel Discusses Intercollegiate Athletic Reform

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November 14, 2012 by kujhawk

By Evan Dunbar

The push-and-pull between intercollegiate athletics and academics and the lack of support for student-athletes to succeed in the classroom were the focal points of a panel discussion entitled, “The Plan to Save Big Time Collegiate Sports” held at the Crossroads Media Center in the Kansas Union Monday afternoon. The panel’s discussion focused on the role of money in this process, and the negative role the NCAA system can play in an athlete’s education.

The discussion panel included Angela Lumpkin Ph.D., professor of sports management at KU, David Catt, a former member of the KU men’s golf team, Paul Buskirk, Associate Athletic Director of Student Support, and Don Green, professor emeritus of engineering and former faculty athletic representative from 1996 to 2007.

Lumpkin said the idea that student athletes are amateurs is a myth. In a paper she recently published in the Journal of Sport Administration and Supervision, Lumpkin outlined 14 recommendations to try and stop the continuous abuse of student athletes at the division 1 level.

“Amateurism is based on the concept of students first, athletes second, and its time has passed,” Lumkpin said.

Education with a high price

The panelists discussed Lumpkin’s ideas, and also brought up their own concerns with the system and the unfair role it plays in an athlete’s academics.

“The student athlete, by choice, is held to a higher standard academically than the average student,” Buskirk said.

This higher standard means more tutoring and attention to athletes’ studies and classroom attendance monitoring. According to the NCAA, it costs an average of $11,000 to educate one student at an institution. For student athletes, it costs $76,000 – almost seven times more than a non-athlete.

“Attendance monitoring? Is that really what we should be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on?” Lumpkin said. “The NCAA’s own numbers say basketball players are missing two-and-a-half classes out of five per week. What can we even do to stop it?”

Lumpkin said in some cases, $100,000 is spent at division 1 institutions just to monitor the attendance of athletes in their classes. These kinds of expenditures are making it hard for athletic departments to operate in the black, Lumpkin said. According to the NCAA only 22 athletic departments made money in the last calendar year. The average money lost per institution is $8 million.

Putting the classroom second

David Catt said his bad experience on the golf team had a lot to do with money, and with the pressure to perform on the field and not in the classroom.

“We are a non-revenue sport, so your scholarship is related to your performance,” Catt said. “If you are not performing on the golf course, you might lose your scholarship.

Catt said his coaches tried to get him to concentrate less on school when his performance on the course began to slip, one of the reasons he decided to leave the team.

“My coaches came up to me and said, ‘you don’t have to get all A’s David, a solid B average is fine,’” Catt said. “That was pretty shocking to me.”

“You should never be told to perform at a lower level [academically] to perform better on the field,” Catt said.

An unfair system

Don Green, who dealt with the Big 12 and NCAA as a faculty representative for KU, said the system is more complex than people might believe, and is a big reason why money is such a focal point for athletic departments, not student success.

“What I found out, which was very surprising to me when I started, was how big of a bureaucracy the Big 12 and the NCAA is,” Green said.

Lumpkin said the current intercollegiate athletics system is not only hurting the integrity of sports, but is making it harder for student athletes to succeed after their athletic eligibility is gone.

“We are living in a bit of a hypocritical system,” Lumpkin said. “The athletes, we are not looking out for their welfare.”

Buskirk said there are 525 student athletes in the 18 sports at KU. Those students make up about 0.2 percent of the total student population. Subsidies from student fees provide a large percentage of athletic funds for these student athletes. These subsidies, Catt said, need to stop.

“I don’t see why we need to do this,” Catt said. “Why can’t an athletic department run in the black by filling up the football and basketball stadiums and selling merchandise? It doesn’t seem fair.”

KU students pay about $50 per year in student fees to the athletic department, which amounts to about $1.5 million for the athletic department to use towards whatever program it chooses.

Description: With many of KU’s men’s and women’s teams in action at this point in the year, I broke down the numbers of how much the athletic department spends on men’s and women’s sports, and found out how much revenue the KU athletic department generated in 2010. The numbers might surprise you.

If you would like to email me about anything I’ve written, you can do so by emailing me at or contact me on twitter @Ev_Dunbar. I would love feedback and advice on what I can do better or what I should be doing more or less of!


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