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Preserving balance is in best interest of student-athletes

Thinking of college athletes as employees is a grave concern for faculty athletics representatives

By Steve Perez

The last several years have seen a great deal of attention paid to student-athletes and their status on campus. Various groups have offered proposals ranging from stipends for participation to unionizing. Faculty athletics representatives work on a day-to-day basis to support student-athlete well-being as well as to promote academic integrity. As such, FARs are uniquely positioned to comment on student-athletes and their role within a university.

Steve Perez

As the Faculty Athletics Representatives Association stated in April 2014, thinking of student-athletes as employees is of great concern to FARs because of the message it sends about the purpose of the college experience. While many may be interested in professional athletics, we treat them as students, not university employees. Colleges and universities are places where the main focus of any student should be on his or her academic undertakings.

Student-athletes benefit greatly through participation in athletics and learn valuable lessons related to teamwork, leadership, goal setting and work ethic. But if those activities take precedence over academic achievement, the central purpose of university attendance is lost. For the vast majority of our student-athletes, the fundamental purpose of enrolling in an institution of higher learning is to gain an education and access to all that entails.

FARs advocate on behalf of both student-athletes and institutions to maintain and enhance student-athlete well-being and academic excellence and integrity. FARs and others within the NCAA membership have been working hard to keep the academic achievement of our student-athletes as a high priority in the NCAA.

As a result of those efforts and other initiatives that have been underway – including developments regarding the new governance structure of Division I – some progress has been made, but much remains to be done. We look forward to continuing to work with NCAA membership to enhance the entire student-athlete experience and are confident that can be accomplished without detriment to the all-important collegiate model of athletics.

Steve Perez is a professor of economics at California State University, Sacramento, and president of FARA.