Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Leadership and Policies

Sub-Department

Educational Administration

First Advisor

Christian K. Anderson

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine perceptions of faculty senators regarding intercollegiate athletics as well as to evaluate their knowledge of athletics' academic and financial governance within Southeastern Conference (SEC) universities. The SEC has a long history of athletic excellence as well as well-established athletic cultures on their respective campuses. Furthermore, all of the SEC institutions are research universities and two institutions are members of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The interplay between the high-achieving athletics teams and faculty members from these institutions provides an enhanced understanding for how faculty and athletics communicate at the institution level and athletics conference.

Current faculty senate members from the 12 Southeastern Conference (SEC) institutions (n=397 of 941) completed a 41-item survey online. The survey included questions related to faculty senator perceptions of college athletics, faculty senator knowledge of financial and academic governance of college athletics, current level of interaction between faculty senate and athletics department, and demographic questions related to the participant including academic discipline and familiarity with college sports. In addition, one question utilized a framework which creates a typology of faculty senates (Minor, 2004) to analyze how senates interact with athletics departments. Lastly, an open-ended question asked for comments regarding the relationship between faculty governance and intercollegiate athletics at the respective SEC schools.

Participant responses revealed that faculty senators have mixed sentiment regarding the relationship between athletics and academics at their institutions. Faculty senators recognized the importance of college athletics in relation to campus visibility; however, they also recognized the overall lack of participation by faculty senates and decisions concerning student-athletes. One of the 12 SEC institutions, Mississippi State University, agreed that the faculty senate plays a positive role in the governance of college athletics at their institution. The presence of one positive outlier exemplifies the current unsteady relationship between faculty and college athletics among SEC faculty senators. Also, based upon participant answers, it would appear the University of Arkansas has the most informed faculty senate with regards to athletics' financial and academic governance among SEC institutions.

Furthermore, it appears there is lack of understanding of athletics' financial and academic governance among the SEC schools as denoted by the absence of consensus among the knowledge-based questions at each institution and the high number of responses expressing uncertainty by the SEC senators. In addition, SEC faculty senators felt their interactions with campus athletics was stymied as indicated by the predominance of responses noting lacking or disengaged behaviors. This research study suggests that faculty senates should examine what their appropriate role in college athletics is. It appears senates and athletics department personnel should increase communications in order to maintain positive relations, thus benefitting the individual groups as well as the campus community.

Share

COinS