Intercollegiate athletics at colleges and universities have been referred to as “American higher education’s ‘peculiar institution.’ Their presence is pervasive, yet their proper balance with academics remains puzzling” (Thelin, 1994, p.1). Scandals such as the one at the University of Colorado at Boulder involving improper conduct of athletes and improper recruiting practices highlight the problems in athletic departments all over the country (Jacobsen, as cited in Umbach, Palmer, Kuh and Hannah, 2006). Organizations such as the Knight Commission, Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA), and the Drake Group dedicate much of their resources toward examining reform in intercollegiate athletics. This all begs the question: How has the rise of high-profile intercollegiate athletics impacted post-secondary education? The purpose of this literature review was to examine the acceleration and impact of high profile spectator sports on American higher education. Specifically, the purpose is to serve as a primer for those unfamiliar with intercollegiate athletics at postsecondary institutions. The researchers sought to examine the rise of intercollegiate athletics at Division I schools, the use of “brand equity” as an institution, the commercialization of big time college sports, and the impact these have on the athletes, faculty, and higher education as a whole. Lastly, the researchers provide recommendations to those involved in setting policy for higher education athletics in order to help combat the current trends in intercollegiate athletics in the hopes of eliminating the negative actions that have become the norm in college athletics. Intercollegiate athletics at colleges and universities have been referred to as American higher education’s “peculiar institution.” Their presence is pervasive, yet their proper balance with academics remains puzzling” (Thelin, 1994, p.1). In A Larger Sense of Purpose, Harold Shapiro (2005) opined, “Why should an institution whose primary devotion to education and scholarship devote so much effort to competitive athletics?” (p. 29). Recent scandals in intercollegiate athletic give one pause: at the University of Colorado at Boulder, improper conduct of athletes and improper recruiting practices were cited after an 18 year old recruit was taken to a strip club; The president of Auburn University recently took a trip on a booster’s private jet to “woo” a football coach at another university when they already had one under contract; and at Purdue University, the women’s basketball team is serving out a two year suspension after allegations that a former assistant coach made over 100 impermissible recruiting calls (Brunt, 2007). These problems highlight the issues in athletic departments all over the country (Jacobsen, as cited in Umbach, Palmer, Kuh and Hannah, 2006). Faculty members at institutions with some of the nation’s largest athletic programs gathered recently to discuss what role they should play in their schools’ athletic programs. They grappled with such issues as how and whether faculty should be involved, and how professors, coaches and sports administrators can collaborate to help athletes perform well in the classroom and on the field (Sander, 2007). This all begs the question: How has the rise of high-profile intercollegiate athletics impacted post-secondary education?
Martin, Kimberly L. and Christy, Keith
"The Rise and Impact of High Profile Spectator Sports on American Higher Education,"
Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics: Vol. 3, Article 1.
Available at: https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/jiia/vol3/iss1/1