Enhancing 'Education': Rebalancing the Relationship Between Athletics and the University

Author:William W. Berry III
Position:Associate Professor of Law and Frank Montague, Jr. Professor of Legal Studies and Professionalism, University of Mississippi
Pages:197-225
 
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Enhancing Education: Rebalancing the
Relationship Between Athletics and the University
William W. Berry III*
This symposium Article argues for a rebalancing of the relationship
between athletics and the university. Specifically, it challenges college
presidents to leverage the economic growth of intercollegiate athletics to
enhance the academic side of the university for all students. The university
ought to utilize athletics to improve the institution, not sacrifice its core
mission to serve the athletics department. To be clear, this rebalancing
would be consistent with the core ideals that both the university presidents
and the NCAA have been verbalizing for decades.
In Part I, the Article describes the shift from a symbiotic relationship
to a more parasitic relationship, with athletics exerting dominance over the
university at many institutions. Part II argues for a rebalancingoutlining
a relational shift consistent with the values of the NCAA and the practices
at some institutions. Finally, Part III addresses the practical obstacles to
such a shift and provides a road map for universities to enhance the
student-athlete educational model that the NCAA champions.
Copyright 2017, by WILLIAM W. BERRY III.
* Associate Professor of Law and Frank Montague, Jr. Pro fessor of Legal
Studies and Professionalism, University of Mississippi. The author thanks the
Louisiana Law Review for the invitation to participate in its January 2017
symposium, Blurr ed Lines: Emerging Trends and Issues in Sports and Gaming
Law, at which this paper was presented, and for the Louisiana Law Review’s hard
work in editing the article. T he author would also like to thank Matt Mitten, Jo
Potuto, Marc Edelman, Roger Groves, and other particip ants in the symposium
for helpful comments a nd suggestions. Finally, the author thanks Morgan Eason
and Allison Bruff for their excellent research assistance.
198 LOUISIANA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 78
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction .................................................................................. 199
I. Athletics Dominance of Universities ........................................... 205
A. The Platform of “Education” ................................................. 206
B. Athletics as the Front Porch of the University ....................... 207
C. The Costs of the Explosion of Athletics ................................ 209
II. Enhancing “Education” ................................................................ 213
A. Addressing the Arms Race .................................................... 213
B. Eliminating University Subsidy of Athletics ......................... 216
C. Mandating Athletics Subsidy of Education ........................... 217
D. Reforming the NCAA ............................................................ 218
III. Mapping the Future of the University-Athletics Relationship ..... 219
A. Obstacles to Reform .............................................................. 219
1. Status Quo Inertia ............................................................ 219
2. Unfamiliarity of Presidents with Athletics ...................... 220
3. Popularity and Visibility of Athletics .............................. 221
4. Academic Gaps for Some Athletes ................................. 222
B. A Roadmap for Readjustment................................................ 223
1. Restructure the NCAA: Emphasize Education, not
Amateurism ..................................................................... 223
2. Grow Athletics, but Leverage Economic Gains through
Conferences ..................................................................... 224
3. Reduce Coach Firings and Buyouts ................................ 224
Conclusion .................................................................................... 225

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