A new report that incorporates perspectives of higher education leaders nationwide, including University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst, is urging colleges and universities to enhance their governing boards’ oversight of their athletics programs.
The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) today released “Trust, Accountability, and Integrity: Board Responsibilities for Intercollegiate Athletics,” the result of extensive study by the association under the guidance of a 14-member advisory board.
The report, an initiative of the AGB Intercollegiate Athletics Project, was released at today’s Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics (KCIA) meeting in Washington, D.C. The findings were presented by AGB President Richard D. Legon and John T. Casteen, president emeritus of the University of Virginia and director of the project. Casteen also was UConn’s 11th president, serving from 1985 to 1990.
“It is imperative that our nation’s colleges and universities find ways to ensure transparent, responsible management of our valued intercollegiate athletics programs while protecting and furthering our academic missions. It was an honor to serve with President Casteen and others who care so deeply about student success,” Herbst says.
The new report cautions that as intercollegiate athletics departments increasingly operate like businesses, boards must act to ensure an appropriate balance between athletics and academics in their institutions, or policy makers or regulators will do it for them.
The report focuses on three recommendations for appropriate board engagement:
- The governing board is ultimately accountable for athletics policy and oversight and must fulfill this fiduciary responsibility.
- The board must act decisively to uphold the integrity of the athletics program and its alignment with the academic mission of the institution.
- The board must educate itself about its policy role and oversight of intercollegiate athletics.
“In light of recent issues in college sports, it is imperative for boards to function at a higher level of awareness and judgment in order to address the financial challenges associated with college sports, to ensure the link between intercollegiate athletics and academic priorities, and to reaffirm standards and ethics in college athletics,” Legon says.
“Chief executive officers administer their institutions’ sports programs on a daily basis,” Casteen said, “but boards must engage actively and appropriately in the policy considerations surrounding the key issues, which can have a major impact on their institutions’ financial welfare and reputation.”
As part of the report, AGB surveyed chief executive officers and board chairs of Division I institutions, as well as of university systems that include Division I institutions.
The survey asked those institutional leaders how they have applied recommendations from AGB’s 2009 “Statement on Board Responsibilities for Intercollegiate Athletics” and about other governance issues related to college sports, including compliance with the rules and regulations of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and various conferences.
Electronic copies of the report and its supplemental survey data are available online at www.agb.org.