Colloquium shines research spotlight on academic reform
By Gary Brown NCAA.org
There’s nothing more scholarly than a good, old-fashioned discussion about academics, and that’s what figures to take place at this year’s NCAA Scholarly Colloquium on College Sports Jan. 10-11 in Indianapolis.
The fifth annual Colloquium, designed to spur scholarly research on intercollegiate athletics and held in conjunction with the NCAA Convention, is titled, “NCAA Academic Reform: Progress, Problems and Prospects.”
Tuesday, Jan. 10, 1:15-2:45 p.m.
Michael Oriard, professor of English at Oregon State University
Reactor: Ken Shropshire, professor of business at the University of Pennsylvania
Moderator: Janet Fink, associate professor of education at the University of Connecticut
Tuesday, Jan. 10, 3-4:30 p.m.
Todd Petr, NCAA managing director of research; and Tom Paskus, NCAA principal research scientist
Reactor No. 1: George Cunningham, professor of health and kinesiology at Texas A&M University, College Station
Reactor No. 2: Sarah Fields, associate professor of sport humanities at The Ohio State University
Moderator: Mindy Millard-Stafford, professor of applied physiology at Georgia Institute of Technology
Wednesday, Jan. 11, 10-11:30 a.m.
Walt Harrison, president of the University of Hartford
Reactor No. 1: Camille O’Bryant, professor of kinesiology at California Polytechnic State University
Reactor No. 2: Bill Morgan, professor of occupational science at the University of Southern California
Moderator: Malcolm Moran, professor of sports journalism at Pennsylvania State University
Wednesday, Jan. 11, 1:45-3:30 p.m.
Panel discussion on academic reform (titled “Institutional Experience with Academic Reform”)
Sidney McPhee, president of Middle Tennessee State University
Carol Cartwright, president emeritus at Kent State University and Bowling Green State University
Harvey Perlman, chancellor of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Kevin Anderson, director of athletics at the University of Maryland, College Park
Mike Alden, director of athletics at the University of Missouri, Columbia
Moderator: Jack Evans, professor of business emeritus at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Four keynote presentations, including a panel of presidents, chancellors and athletics directors, will walk participants through the NCAA’s latest iteration of academic reform, from its roots to its current successes and remaining challenges.
The NCAA’s Academic Performance Program in Division I (which includes the metric-based Academic Progress Rate and accompanying penalty structure for teams not meeting established benchmarks) has been in place for almost 10 years. The entering class of 2003-04 was the first for which APR data were gathered.
Thus, Colloquium organizers thought it prudent to see whether the data so far matched the intended outcomes and how any lingering concerns might be addressed.
Kicking off the keynotes is Oregon State professor and associate dean Michael Oriard, a 1970 Notre Dame graduate and former NFL player who is known for his published books “Brand NFL: Making and Selling America’s Favorite Sport” and “Bowled Over: Big-Time College Football from the Sixties to the BCS Era,” both from the University of North Carolina Press. Oriard has been invited to provide historical context surrounding the integral relationship between academics and athletics and discuss the various reform movements that have been necessary along the way.
Oriard will be followed by NCAA researchers Todd Petr and Tom Paskus, who will provide results from the Academic Performance Program, which produced the well-known acronyms APR (Academic Progress Rate) and GSR (Graduation Success Rate).
University of Hartford President Walt Harrison follows with a review of next steps, including recommendations from the Division I Committee on Academic Performance (which Harrison chairs) to ratchet up initial-eligibility standards and hinge postseason participation on academic performance.
Anchoring the agenda is the five-person panel of presidents Sidney McPhee (Middle Tennessee), Carol Cartwright (president emeritus at Kent State and Bowling Green) and Harvey Perlman (chancellor at Nebraska), and athletics directors Kevin Anderson (Maryland) and Mike Alden (Missouri), all of whom have had direct experience implementing strategies that allow their institutions to meet the regulations adopted under the academic-reform initiatives.
The Colloquium’s theme of academics is both appropriate and timely. NCAA President Mark Emmert in fact during the most recent release of APR reports in May said that it’s time for the Association to move away from thinking about academic success as something that should be “reformed” to something that is an expected outcome for student-athletes.
Emmert also invited more than 50 influential presidents and chancellors to a retreat in August at which the idea of embedding academic success was foremost on the agenda. The Division I Board of Directors the next day in fact adopted increased academic standards that teams must meet to participate in NCAA championships and bowl games.
Previous colloquia have focused on student-athlete health and safety, social justice issues and the fiscal sustainability of the enterprise. Late NCAA President Myles Brand introduced the Colloquium in 2008 as a way to generate more research on intercollegiate athletics, a field in which he thought quality study was lacking.
Brand established an Advisory and Editorial Board composed of about a dozen high-profile scholars who oversee the Colloquium and its accompanying Journal of Intercollegiate Sport, in which papers presented at the Colloquium and others are published. The board’s current chair is David Wiggins, professor and director of the School of Recreation, Health and Tourism at George Mason University.
“Myles Brand also wanted the scholarly research he assumed the Colloquium would produce to inform decisions about NCAA policy,” Wiggins said. “We hope the 2012 Colloquium will serve us well on academic standards going forward.”
In that vein, the agenda is more linear than in previous years, with Oriard providing a historical overview, Petr and Paskus rolling out current results, Harrison teeing up next steps and the panel talking about implementation and best practices.
Mike Alden, director of athletics at Missouri
Alden has been the AD at Missouri since July 1998. Before that, he held a similar post at Texas State. He also served in senior management positions at New Mexico and Arizona State. Alden played college football at Evansville and coached football at both Evansville and Pennsylvania.
Kevin Anderson, director of athletics at Maryland
Anderson is in his second year as AD at Maryland after his first year saw a national championship in field hockey and national runner-up finishes in men’s and women’s lacrosse. He came to College Park after six years as the AD at Army. He has prior service at Oregon State, California and Stanford. Anderson, a 1979 graduate of San Francisco State, currently serves on the NACDA board of directors and as chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Issues Committee.
Carol Cartwright, president emeritus at Kent State and Bowling Green
Cartwright was president of Bowling Green from 2008 to 2011. Her retirement in June 2011 marked a 45-year career in public higher education. From 1991 to 2006, she served as president of Kent State, a role that earned her the distinction of the first female president of a state university in Ohio. Before that, she was vice chancellor for academic affairs at UC Davis, and dean for undergraduate programs and vice provost at Penn State. She served as a member of the Penn State faculty from 1967 to 1988. She is a former chair of the NCAA Executive Committee and served as a member of the Division I Board of Directors. Cartwright received distinguished alumni awards from Wisconsin-Whitewater, where she earned her bachelor’s degree, and from Pittsburgh, where she earned masters and doctoral degrees.
Walt Harrison, Hartford president
Harrison, who chairs the NCAA Division I Committee on Academic Performance, became Hartford’s fifth president in 1998 and has overseen dramatic improvements in academic quality, finances and fundraising at the school. He graduated from Trinity (Connecticut) in 1968 and earned a master’s degree from Michigan in 1969. After an interim of three years to serve as captain in the United States Air Force, Harrison earned a doctorate from UC Davis. His doctoral dissertation, “Out of Play: Baseball Fiction from Pulp to Art,” was one of the earliest scholarly treatments of baseball and its place in American life.
Sidney McPhee, Middle Tennessee president
McPhee became the 10th president of Middle Tennessee in 2001. Before that, he was executive vice chancellor at the Tennessee Board of Regents and served as chief academic officer and interim chancellor for the Board of Regents system. Before that appointment, McPhee served in various administrative capacities at Oklahoma State, Louisville and Memphis. McPhee earned his bachelor’s degree from Prairie View, a masters from Miami (Florida) and a doctorate from Oklahoma State. He participated as a member of the NCAA’s Football Academic Working Group and chaired the Division I Working Group to Review “At-Risk” Student-Athlete issues. He is serving his second term on the Division I Board of Directors 2010 and is a member of the NCAA Executive Committee.
Michael Oriard, professor of English at Oregon State
Oriard is the author of seven books, four of them on the cultural history of American football, including “Bowled Over: Big-Time College Football from the Sixties to the BCS Era.” He played football as a student-athlete at Notre Dame and professionally for the Kansas City Chiefs. He is distinguished professor of American literature and culture (emeritus) and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State.
Tom Paskus, NCAA principal research scientist
Paskus directs the NCAA’s national portfolio of studies on the academic trajectories of college student-athletes and oversees the NCAA’s data collections and research initiatives pertaining to the academic, athletics, social and personal well-being of current and former student-athletes. He has worked extensively on the development of the Academic Progress Rate and eligibility standards for Division I and II student-athletes, in addition to the GOALS and SCORE studies of the college student-athlete experience. Before joining the NCAA, Paskus was a faculty member at Denver. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. in quantitative psychology from Virginia and an A.B. in psychology from Dartmouth.
Todd Petr, NCAA managing director of research
Petr has been a member of the NCAA research staff since 1987. He was named director in 1998 and managing director in 2003. He has participated in research efforts that have fundamentally changed the way the NCAA has accounted for academic success and regulated academic performance. Petr also has been instrumental in developing comprehensive studies related to student-athlete well-being issues, athletics finances and diversity issues. He received his masters in business administration from Kansas and a B.A. in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis.
Harvey Perlman, chancellor at Nebraska
Perlman was named the 19th chancellor of Nebraska on April 1, 2001. A former dean of the Nebraska College of Law (1983-98), Perlman also served as interim senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at Nebraska in 1995-96. A Nebraska native, Perlman earned a bachelor of arts in history and a juris doctorate from Nebraska. He joined the school’s law faculty in 1967 after spending a year as a Bigelow Teaching Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School. He served on the Nebraska law faculty until 1974 when he joined the faculty at the University of Virginia Law School. He returned to Nebraska in 1983 when he accepted the deanship of the Nebraska Law College, a post he held until 1998 when he returned to the professoriate. Perlman is a former member of the Division I Board of Directors and currently serves on one of four working groups appointed to implement reform efforts from the NCAA’s presidential retreat in August.
“The panel in particular was deliberately situated,” said Jack Evans, chair of the Colloquium’s program committee. “It’s a collection of on-the-ground practitioners who have had some involvement in the creation of the Academic Performance Program who can in effect talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of reform. What’s the experience you have lived – what was your original feeling when we started and how has that changed, if at all, as you have experienced and observed it?”
Evans, the Hettleman Professor of Business Emeritus and former dean of the Kenan-Flagler Business School at North Carolina, where he retired last year after 41 years on the faculty, will moderate the panel session. He is the only member of the Colloquium Advisory and Editorial Board who also is a member of the Committee on Academic Performance.
As in the past, the Colloquium also features “reactors” who may offer contrarian viewpoints to the keynote presentations. Brand insisted on that kind of inclusivity as being a hallmark of the Colloquium identity.
Along those lines, Evans said some people might perceive the 2012 Colloquium lineup as being heavily stacked toward an NCAA agenda, with three of the four keynote presentations populated by NCAA staff, an NCAA committee chair, and sitting presidents and ADs.
“But there will be reactors who speak from different perspectives, which I think will produce the kind of dialogue you would hope to have at a Colloquium,” he said. “As the NCAA governance structure goes about its work, there isn’t always the automatic chance for outside perspectives to chime in. The Colloquium provides that opportunity in this case.”
Evans hopes the discussion addresses whether the NCAA’s latest reform efforts have influenced behavior.
The APP as a three-part system of increased standards (initial eligibility and progress toward degree), new metrics (APR and GSR) and penalties for not meeting them was regarded as a structure to persuade coaches to recruit differently, Evans said.
“But there’s a hypothesis out there that says in the high-profile programs, relatively few coaches have changed their recruiting models; rather, to the extent that they’re bringing in high-risk prospects, they’re just pumping more resources in to academic-support programs,” he added. “Perhaps it could be turned to the hope that real behaviors (recruiting, academic emphasis and performance, graduation) would change, rather than creating a situation in which people simply concentrate on avoiding penalties.”
Evans said those are the types of issues he’d like the Colloquium to address.
“Although we chose the theme and started working on the program before the presidential retreat in August, I like to think that the program for the Colloquium creates the possibility of research dialog coming to bear on policy formation and expectations for the NCAA,” he said.