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Intercollegiate Athletics and the American University

A University President's Perspective

James J. Duderstadt

Publication Year: 2003

After decades of domination on campus, college sports' supremacy has begun to weaken. "Enough, already!" detractors cry. College is about learning, not chasing a ball around to the whir of TV cameras. In Intercollegiate Athletics and the American University James Duderstadt agrees, taking the view that the increased commercialization of intercollegiate athletics endangers our universities and their primary goal, academics. Calling it a "corrosive example of entertainment culture" during an interview with ESPN's Bob Ley, Duderstadt suggested that college basketball, for example, "imposes on the university an alien set of values, a culture that really is not conducive to the educational mission of university." Duderstadt is part of a growing controversy. Recently, as reported in The New York Times, an alliance between university professors and college boards of trustees formed in reaction to the growth of college sports; it's the first organization with enough clout to challenge the culture of big-time university athletics. This book is certainly part of that challenge, and is sure to influence this debate today and in the years to come. James J. Duderstadt is President Emeritus and University Professor of Science and Engineering, University of Michigan.

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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Part I. Hail to the Victors

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1. Introduction

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pp. 3-15

Mention Michigan to a sports fan, and the image that probably comes to mind is that of the university’s football team storming onto the field wearing those ferocious maize-and-blue striped helmets. Fans think of our great rivalries with Ohio State and Notre Dame. They recall the names of such legendary Michigan sports figures as Yost, Crisler, Harmon, and ...

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2. Go Blue

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pp. 16-45

It doesn’t take long for newcomers to the University of Michigan campus to discover the centrality of intercollegiate athletics in the life of the institution. The local newspapers and television broadcasts are saturated with news about Michigan teams, coaches, and players. Michigan insignia are plastered on sweatshirts and T-shirts, caps and scarves, coffee cups ...

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3. A University President’s Perspective

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pp. 46-66

Before I became provost and then president of the University of Michigan, I was a member of its faculty. Like many members of the Michigan faculty family, my wife Anne and I were loyal but distant spectators of Michigan athletics. Joining most of the rest of Ann Arbor, we attended football games, sitting in the same seats near the end zone year after year with other ...

Part II. How Do Things Really Work?

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4. The Evolution of College Sports

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pp. 69-86

A random sampling of media coverage would suggest that college sports consists primarily of big-time football and basketball programs, led by celebrity coaches, and played by soon-to-be professional athletes. In reality intercollegiate athletics is characterized by great diversity among institutions, sporting activities, and participants. This is not particularly ...

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5. University 101

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pp. 87-103

Although I have argued that intercollegiate athletics today is excessively influenced and distorted by external pressures such as the sports media and the commercial marketplace, our athletics programs did not evolve independently from, but rather within, the university. They have been shaped, in part, by the policies and practices, the financing and governance, ...

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6. The Governance of Intercollegiate Athletics

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pp. 104-125

During my term as chairman of the Big Ten Conference Council of Presidents (i.e., its board of directors), the conference celebrated its one hundredth anniversary in 1995 with a black-tie gala in the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. Exactly a century earlier, in the same hotel, the presidents of several major midwestern universities had come together, under the leadership of ...

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7. Financing College Athletics

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pp. 126-146

The sports media fuel the belief that money is the root of all evil in college athletics. And, indeed, the size of the broadcasting contracts for college football and basketball events, the compensation of celebrity coaches, and the professional contracts dangled in front of star athletes make it clear that money does govern many aspects of intercollegiate athletics. ...

Part III. Cracks in the Facade

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8. The Commercialization of College Sports

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pp. 149-188

Several years ago at a Big Ten Conference meeting, I decided to shake up things by offering a radical (if tongue-in-cheek) proposal. I proposed that all of the Big Ten universities agree to a five-year moratorium on television broadcasting of our sports events. I argued that this moratorium would provide our universities with the opportunity to determine the purpose ...

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9. The Student-Athlete

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pp. 189-214

Several years ago, the Michigan athletic department started an important tradition by hosting a banquet each spring to honor those athletes who had distinguished themselves in the classroom. It was my privilege as president to attend this banquet and offer congratulations to these students, all of whom had earned honors status in their various academic programs. ...

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10. Integrity

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pp. 215-230

Hardly a week goes by without yet another expos

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11. Institutional Control

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pp. 231-260

There is no more serious accusation in a rules violations investigation by the NCAA Infractions Committee concerning intercollegiate athletics than a conclusion that the university has lost “institutional control” of its athletics program. But there is also perhaps no accusation more frequently misunderstood by the media, the public, and even the accused institution. To both ...

Part IV. Tilting at Windmills

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12. Back to Basics

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pp. 263-273

For just as long as intercollegiate athletics have been a part of American higher education, concerns have been raised about their integrity and appropriateness within the university. Generation after generation has taken on the challenge of reforming college sports, and all have essentially failed. Before remedies to cure the ills of college sports, I want first to take a ...

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13. Roads to Reform

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pp. 274-304

While the track record of efforts to reform intercollegiate athletics is not encouraging, it nevertheless is vitally important that educators continue to strive to control varsity sports and align them more appropriately with the educational values of their host institutions. ...

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14. Reform or Extinction?

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pp. 305-318

A century of experience does not leave one with great confidence that we can constrain the commercialization and professionalization of college sports. The insatiable interests of the American public in college sports, the vested interests of celebrity coaches and ambitious athletic directors, the powerful commercial forces of the sports media, the entertainment ...

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pp. 319-326

As Intercollegiate Athletics and the American University was first appearing in print in the fall of 2000, I received a call from William Friday, the distinguished former president of the University of North Carolina. President Friday had served as co-chair of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, along with Father Theodore Hesburgh, former president of Notre Dame. He informed ...


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pp. 327-334


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pp. 335-339

E-ISBN-13: 9780472021918
E-ISBN-10: 0472021915
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472089437
Print-ISBN-10: 0472089439

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: 15 photographs
Publication Year: 2003

OCLC Number: 448663014
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Intercollegiate Athletics and the American University

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • College sports -- Corrupt practices -- United States.
  • College sports -- United States -- Management.
  • College sports -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • College sports -- Moral and ethical aspects -- United States.
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