This is a good week to reflect on research, one of the NCAA’s main tools for developing sound policy and better legislation.
Evaluating the student-athlete experience. During last week’s NCAA Convention, the NCAA released its quadrennial report on student-athlete experiences. The Growth, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Learning of Students in College (GOALS) study considered current student-athletes while a companion examination, the Study of College Outcomes and Recent Experiences (SCORE), looked at how former student-athletes regard their experiences.
This all sounds dry, but it’s important. Read on.
Listen carefully to college athletes (Jon Solomon, Birmingham News)
College athletes identify trouble spots in women’s basketball (Chronicle of Higher Education)
Solomon provided the most complete review of the GOALS study for his readers, concluding with this observation: “College sports possess so many great qualities. And just as many issues that can be damaging. Listen to the athletes carefully enough, and you’ll hear them all.”
Solomon is 100 percent correct. The NCAA should get credit for asking tough questions, but studies are pointless if nobody acts on the concerns that are uncovered.
Fortunately, the NCAA’s record in this area is encouraging. In the original GOALS examination, the emphasis fell mostly on student-athlete time demands. Those data were used to guide changes in Division I baseball and, more dramatically, in Division II, where playing and practice seasons in most sports were reduced last January through the “Life in the Balance” legislative initiative.
This time around, the GOALS study identified a possible concern with relationships between student-athletes and coaches, especially in women’s basketball. NCAA Research Committee chair Kurt Beron drew a prudent conclusion: “While we observe some differences between women’s basketball and other sports on various elements in these data, it’s important to note that we can’t attribute causality with this information. Is it the case that women’s basketball coaches are behaving differently than coaches in other sports, or are they being held to higher standards by the student-athletes? These are certainly issues for further study.”
Over the last two decades, the NCAA has made enormous advances in its research efforts. Better research has informed improvements in academics, safety, race and gender demographics, and finances, among other things. Critics too often use NCAA research out of context as ammunition to highlight the weakness of college sports. In fact, the Association’s ability to look inward is one of its greatest strengths.
Coverage of several other matters was provided in the wake of the Convention, including this column:
NCAA Council missed chance to put academics first (John Gillooly, Providence Journal)
Gillooly was writing on the Legislative Council’s defeat of a proposal that would have curtailed early student-athlete recruiting commitments in Division I sports. Gillooly was right to question whether adults contribute to challenges facing urban educators by cultivating illusions of athletics grandeur among children.
“Now (urban educators) also have to worry about college basketball coaches instilling a perception in young kids that they have to spend a lot of time developing their game before they even get into high school,” Gillooly wrote. “Forget going home to do your middle school homework; you need to stay on the playground and work on that jumper.”
Maybe NCAA legislation isn’t the answer, but this question isn’t going to disappear.
Here are a few other stories from the tail end of the NCAA Convention:
NCAA’s new leader impresses AD Kuntz (Ventura County Star)
(Division II) sports seasons to start later (Inside Higher Ed)
Caution advised on NCAA legislation over likenesses (San Antonio Express)
NCAA enforcement coming under more scrutiny (USA Today)
Reform the NCAA? Group’s new president has his hands full (Rachel Blount, Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Pay for play and the Bylaw Blog. John Infante’s Bylaw Blog, which shares space with this blog on the front of NCAA.org, took a pass as “What Would Paying Student-Athletes Look Like?” The post won immediate acclaim from CBSSports.com’s Ray Ratto, which should be regarded as a sign of trouble.
Infante does not appear to be endorsing pay-for-play. Rather, he’s attempting to frame the proposal that should be discussed. But he gets quite comfortable with his hypothetical during the course of the analysis.
“If you run the league right, it may even be a wash in costs for many football programs (although that’s beyond the score of this post),” Infante wrote.
The discussion certainly becomes easier if you don’t worry about interferences such as money, competitive equity and the many consequences of turning student-athletes into employees.
Here’s what NCAA President Mark Emmert has said about pay-for-play: “Student-athletes will never be paid as long as I’m president of the NCAA. Student-athletes are just that: They’re ‘student-athletes.’ They’re not employees of the university. … It is grossly inappropriate for universities to even talk about paying student-athletes.”
That seems clear enough to indicate this discussion isn’t on the docket.
Student-athletes and violence. Business Insider recently waded into the issue of student-athlete violence.
Does the NCAA ignore student-athlete violence? (Skip Oliva, Business Insider)
To state the obvious, serious allegations of violent sexual assault should concern any right-minded person. Whether that should trigger an NCAA response is an entirely different question.
If you’re interested in learning more, a videostream of an NCAA Convention session on the subject is available on NCAA.org.
None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Wrote Seth Newman of the Bleacher Report: “The NCAA wouldn’t want a playoff system because of all the money it makes during the BCS with its bowl sponsors.”
Greedy NCAA and the money maker BCS: How fans can have a playoff system (Seth Newman, Bleacher Report)
Repeat after me: The NCAA does not make any money from Division I postseason bowl games. If you want more information about NCAA revenue, here’s the budget report (the 2009-10 report will be posted next week, by the way). Bowl-games revenue is not included in NCAA television and marketing fees, nor is it included among championships, because that money goes directly to conferences and member schools.
A financial gusher in Texas. This week, ESPN and the University of Texas at Austin formally agreed on a $300 million, 20-year media deal, mostly focusing on the institution’s intercollegiate athletics program.
UT sets new standard with $300 million ESPN deal (Austin American-Statesman)
Texas reaches 20-year, $300 million deal with ESPN (The Associated Press)
All Longhorns, all the time (Inside Higher Ed)
Texas’ star just got way brighter with new TV network (Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com)
University of Texas’ TV network is a lucrative web of conflicts (Michael Rosenberg, Sports Illustrated)
Conference aftershocks continue. At last week’s NCAA Convention, NCAA President Mark Emmert said he anticipates more intra-division movement as conferences continue to realign. Recent headlines appear to make him a prophet:
Commissioner says WAC has new members lined up (Beaumont Enterprise)
WAC automatic bid will survive (CBSSports.com)
WAC readies to build on new foundation (FanHouse)
San Jose State a possible expansion target for Mountain West Conference (San Jose Mercury News)
NSIC to expand to 16 schools for 2012-13 season (St. Cloud Times)
There was also this:
If Abilene Christian wants in the Division I game, the school will have to deal with a bigger ante. At the 2011 NCAA Convention, Division I approved new membership standards that could make the application fee top $1 million.