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Academic integrity in college sports programs has been the center of national reform efforts (Knight Foundation, 1991, 1992, 1993 and Presidents Commission, 1991). The focus of these efforts has been to reestablish institutional control of intercollegiate athletics in order to restore their academic legitimacy. University presidents have been identified in the reports as the targeted individuals who should assume responsibility for the operation of their respective athletics programs. Later, the Knight Foundation (1992) commended many university presidents for assuming control in the governance of their intercollegiate sports programs (Kuga, 1996).

However, presidential control is but one step in reestablishing institutional academic integrity and legitimacy in collegiate athletics. Presidents are vulnerable to many external political and economic forces which impact internal decisions within the institution. This may be particularly true when university presidents are expected to concentrate a considerate portion of their time and energy on fund-raising activities. It is unreasonable that intercollegiate athletics can be transformed by university presidents alone.

The responsibility for university governance falls mainly on the faculty, typically through an elected body called the senate. The faculty senate at most institutions of higher education has authority over all academic standards including the standards for intercollegiate athletic participation. " The Statement of Guiding Principles of the Big Ten Conference' suggest that the faculty shall hold primary responsibility for intercollegiate athletics and shall exercise its oversight and veto power over all athletic-related actions/decisions, including the areas of academic standards, students life, and equity issues" (Kuga, 1996, p. 150). The faculty has the duty to ensure that all athletes have a proper balance of athletic and educational experiences.

Faculty involvement in the governance of intercollegiate athletics has been minimal. The problem has been identified as one of separation and isolation. Frey wrote that athletics have been separated operationally and programmatically from normal academic review or responsibility. The faculty have rejected athletics as an unworthy educational activity and, as a result, have avoided asserting themselves in any control measures... While retaining an organizational link to the institution, athletics have become isolated from academic life and therefore from control measures (Kuga, 1996, p.151).

In a Harris poll conducted in 1989, over three-fourths of the respondents (77%) felt that sport scandals and the pursuit of money through sport caused the traditional role of the university as a model of ethics and integrity to be questioned. This same survey "... found that 75% of the public, 68% of college and university trustees, 81% of the faculty , 72% of alumni, and 48% of college presidents believed intercollegiate athletics are out of control' " (Frey, 1994, p.111). Branvold (1994) has proposed a five-prong model to determine program quality in the evaluation of intercollegiate athletics. These parameters include academic performance, balance & equity, financial sufficiency, size & scope, and winning. He devotes considerable time in the development of the model to the interrelationships of financial sufficiency and winning as criteria for quality. Two other parameters, academic performance and equity or balance, have been identified as integrity issues. The NCAA has an involved and detailed process for its member institutions to undergo in order to achieve certification by that governing body.

In his book, Beyond the Ivory Tower: Social responsibilities of the Modern University, Derek Bok, past president of Harvard, as quoted in Gerdy (1993) encouraged university leaders to increase their emphasis on moral and ethical education:

A university that refuses to take ethical dilemmas seriously violates its basic obligations to society. And a university that fails to engage its members in debate on these issues and to communicate with care the reasons for its policies gives an impression of moral indifference that is profoundly dispiriting to large numbers of students and professors who share a concern for social issues and a desire to have their institutions behave responsibly. Moreover, any administration that fails to discuss such questions openly and in detail will allow the campus debate on serious moral problems to degenerate into slogans and oversimplifications unworthy of an institution dedicated to the rigorous exploration of ideas. Even if only a fraction of the community is aware of the efforts being made by the institution and understands more fully all the arguments involved, the efforts by university leaders will be eminently worthwhile.

Individual members of the academic and athletic communities must come together and work for the mutual benefit of the athletes and for the institution. An example of this type of effort is in the form of this panel discussion. Although the panelists have UTK connections, the discussions will be from a broad perspective. Each panel member will give a brief statement regarding the moral and ethical issues in collegiate sports programs from his or her vantage point. Members of the panel will discuss from various perspectives the moral dimensions and institutional ethics involved in the administration and governance of intercollegiate athletics. Members of the panel are:

Dr. Carl Asp, UTK Faculty Representative to NCAA/SEC & Chair of the Athletics Board Professor, Audiology

Mr. Doug Dickey, Director Men's Athletics, UTK

Dr. Dennie Ruth Kelley, Chair, UTK Senate Athletics Committee Associate Professor and Unit Leader, Sport and Physical Activity

Dr. David Lee, Chair Chancellor's Academic-Athletics Integrity Review Committee Associate Professor and Head, Germanic and Slavic Languages

Ms. Donna Thomas, Associate Director Women's Athletics, UTK

The university academic and athletics communities must approach the moral and ethical dilemmas of intercollegiate sport with candor. The issues that will be raised are not to be critical of athletics, of faculty governance, or of university administrators. The purpose is to openly discuss the institutional ethics and the moral dimensions of university policy toward the governance of athletics on our university campuses.


At the close of today's discussion, a simple model will be proposed that can be used to assist in the institutional governance of intercollegiate athletics. The model is inclusive of students, faculty members, athletics directors, and administrators. References Frey, J.H. (1994) Deviance of organizational subunits: The case of college athletic departments. Journal of Sport and Social Issues 2, 110-122.

Gerdy, J. R.(1993). What is an ethics convention' about? The NCAA NEWS Nov.22.

Kuga, D.J. (1996). Governance of intercollegiate athletics: Perceptions of faculty members. Journal of Sport Management, 10, 149-168.

Branvold, S. E. (1994) Beyond winning: An expanded model for evaluating athletic program quality. In P.J. Graham (Ed.), Sport business operational and theoretical aspects (pp. 204-210). Madison, WI: Brown & Benchmark.


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Last updated: July 22, 1997