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10th Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics Sparks Faculty Discussion

Tampa, FL (February 07, 2013) — More than 50 faculty representatives from various universities recently sat down at USF with officials from the NCAA and worked to ensure that college athletics don't detract from the university's academic mission.

Michael Bowen & USF President Judy Genshaft speaking

At the 10th Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics conference, held at USF's Muma College of Business Feb. 1-3, faculty members from across the nation discussed their role in the future of college sports and how to focus on the academic success of student athletes, developing a list of best practices for athletics governance that will eventually go to the NCAA.

"I have always seen intercollegiate athletics as being embedded in higher education," said Wally Renfro, the recently retired NCAA vice president and chief policy advisor. "If it isn't, I don't see that it has any place on campus."

USF Management Professor Mike Bowen, the newly elected chair of the organization, helped organize the conference, which sparked lively discussion on what the roles of faculty, the NCAA, and university administration should be in the governance of college sports. He said he was interested in the mission of COIA not only because of his background in management, but also because he used to be a college athlete, and he thinks the present window for reform is a great opportunity for faculty members to make their voices heard.

"The organization has been dedicated over the years to athletics reform, focusing on faculty input and the degradation of the student athlete concept that's happened over the years," Bowen said. "Faculty have not been protecting the academy the way we should have been, and that's what we're trying to do here."

In addition to panel discussion and breakout sessions to develop best practices, the conference hosted speakers such as Renfro and other NCAA officials, USF President Judy Genshaft, and John Caroll, a commentator on the state of intercollegiate athletics and a former newspaper editor for the L.A. Times, Baltimore Sun, and others.

Genshaft, who was the first woman to serve as chair of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, spoke to how faculty could have a voice at their own universities and took questions from coalition members. She also compared athletics to a front porch, something that attracts people to the institution and exposes them to other things the university has to offer.

"The difference between a campus with sports and a campus without sports is amazing," she said.

In response to questions about whether athletics divert money from other areas of the university, she used her own giving as an example, saying that she gave to a program allowing students to study abroad while also donating money to USF athletics.

"I don't see athletics as that much of a silo," she said. "Most of our donors have many different interests."