College athletes should be treated the same as other students in admissions decisions and graduation requirements, a commission that has studied college sports for more than a decade says.
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|Read the report, “A Call to Action: Reconnecting College Sports and Higher Education,” from NCAA Online.|
Growing commercialization and student athletes’ low graduation rates have tainted the integrity of many colleges’ programs, argues the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, which warns of similar problems at the high school level.
The 28-member panel, established in 1989 by the trustees of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to propose a reform agenda for college sports, released its final report in June.
The report calls for the creation of a panel of higher education leaders to work with university presidents to improve the academic climate of big-time college sports. The panel would have no power to enact legislation for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, but would address concerns about athletes’ academic performance, excessive spending on athletic facilities, and the commercialization of college sports.
High School Abuses
Even as major college sports programs become increasingly connected with corporate sponsors—the University of Michigan’s latest contract with Nike, for example, doubled its payments from the company to $1.2 million a year—the commission notes growing abuses in high school as well.
“High school sports today can reflect the worst of their collegiate counterparts,” the report says. “In addition to commercial influences, recruitment and transfer of high school players are far too common, leading to disjointed academic experiences and absurdly dominant teams in some communities. Academic compromises are made for high school athletes as well, leaving them with a diploma but ill prepared for college-level work.”
A version of this article appeared in the July 11, 2001 edition of Education Week as Panel Criticizes College, High School Sports