Statement on Intercollegiate Athletics

The statement that follows was prepared by a special committee of the Association’s Council. It was adopted by the Council in June 1991.


On many campuses the conduct of intercollegiate athletic programs poses serious and direct conflicts with desired academic standards and goals. The pressure to field winning teams has led to widely publicized scandals concerning the recruitment, exploitation, and academic failure of many athletes.

Expenditures on athletics may distort institutional budgets and can reduce resources available for academic functions.Within some academic programs faculty members have been pressured to give preferential treatment to athletes. Coaches and athletic directors are themselves often trapped in the relentless competitive and financial pressures of the current system, and many would welcome reform.

Not all institutions have problems with athletics of the same type or to the same degree. Nevertheless, we believe that all colleges and universities would benefit from the adoption of a national set of standards that would protect athletes from exploitation and would place expenditures on and administration of athletic programs under the regular governance procedures of the institution.

We urge faculty participation in the cause of reform. We urge our administrators to enter into national efforts to establish new standards through the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or other regulatory agencies. We specifically endorse the following proposed reforms and ask faculty colleagues, administrators, and athletic department staff throughout the country to join with us in working to implement them on their campuses, in their athletic conferences, through the NCAA, and nationally.

Admissions and Academic Progress

  1. 1. Institutions should not use admissions standards for athletes that are not comparable to those for other students.
  2. A committee elected by the faculty should monitor the compliance with policies relating to admissions, the progress toward graduation, and the integrity of the course of study of students who engage in intercollegiate athletics. This committee should report annually to the faculty on admissions, on progress toward graduation, and on graduation rates of athletes by sport. Further, the committee should be charged with seeking appropriate review of cases in which it appears that faculty members or administrators have abused academic integrity in order to promote athletic programs.

Avoidance of Exploitation

Students who are athletes need time for their academic work. Participation in intercollegiate athletics in the first year of college is ill-advised. Athletes should have at least one day a week without athletic obligations. Overnight absences on weekday evenings should be kept to a maximum of one per week, with rare exceptions. The number of events per season should be periodically reviewed by the faculty. Student athletes should be integrated with other students in housing, food service, tutoring, and other areas of campus life.

Financial Aid

Financial-aid standards for athletes should be comparable to those for other students. The aid should be administered by the financial-aid office of the institution. The assessment of financial need may take account of time demands on athletes which preclude or limit employment during the academic year. Continuation of aid to students who drop out of athletic competition or complete their athletic eligibility should be conditioned only on their remaining academically and financially qualified.

Financing Athletics: Governance

  1. Financial operations of the department of athletics, including all revenues received from outside groups, should be under the full and direct control of the central administration of the campus. Complete budgets of the athletic department for the coming year and actual expenditures and revenues for the past year should be published in full detail. Annual budgets as well as long-term plans should be approved under the regular governance procedures of the campus, with meaningful involvement of elected faculty representatives
  2. Particular scrutiny should be given to use of the institution’s general operating funds to support the athletic department. Institutions should establish regulations governing the use of, and the payment of fees for, university facilities by private businesses, such as summer athletic camps. Fees charged to coaches should be assessed on the same basis as those charged to faculty members and other staff engaged in private business on campus. Published budgets should include an accounting of maintenance expenses for sports facilities, activities of booster groups, payments by outsiders for appearances by coaches and other athletic staff, payments by sports-apparel companies, and sources of scholarship funds.
  3. Elected faculty representatives should comprise a majority of the campus committee that formulates campus athletic policy, and such a committee should be chaired by an elected faculty member.

Conflicts of Interest

Paid-for trips to games, and other special benefits for faculty, administrators, or members of governing boards involved in the oversight of athletics, whether offered by the university or by outside groups, create conflicts of interest and should be eliminated.


  1. In order to avoid the obstacles to unilateral reform efforts, the university’s chief administrative officer should join with counterparts in other institutions to pursue these reforms and report annually to the academic community on the progress of such efforts.
  2. Beginning five years from adoption of these principles at an institution, athletic events should be scheduled only with institutions, and within conferences and associations, that commit themselves to the implementation of these principles.

Final Comment

Institutions should redouble their efforts to enroll and support academically able students from disadvantaged backgrounds regardless of their athletic ability. Athletic programs never should have been considered as a major way of supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds in institutions of higher education. If these recommendations are adopted, athletes who lack academic skills or interests will no longer be enrolled, and some of those excluded will be from such backgrounds. In the interest of such athletes, institutions and the NCAA should avoid regulations that interfere with the creation of other channels of entry for these athletes into professional athletics.