Leading college athletics

The rising toll of scandals shows a lack of role models in college sports.

by Editorial board

Intercollegiate athletics in the U.S. was started to give students the opportunity to take part in spirited and friendly competition. Today, college athletics has expanded into a multi-billion dollar industry, with large sums of money being spent on everything from scholarships to stadiums, sponsorships and TV contracts. Many colleges receive national recognition solely because of a successful sports program. The stakes are extremely high for those involved in collegiate athletics, especially for those in the sports that generate high amounts of revenue and media attention for the school. While the amount of money and attention surrounding college sports isn’t necessarily a bad thing, scandals involving cheating and other rule violations or cover-ups often occur because academics became secondary and winning became the ultimate goal.

Countless examples, including the recent allegations of former Gophers receiver A.J. Barker, demonstrate how the various NCAA committees are not capable of ensuring fairness and ethical behavior on their own. The players and coaches are ultimately the ones who decide what the core values of collegiate athletics are. As of late there has been an underwhelming display of leadership and lack of role models within college athletics. Coaches, particularly, should be the ones that provide the foundation for an ethical and disciplined sports program. Yet on every level, from Division III up to Division I, we continue to see coaches involved in scandals that display a lack of priorities, character and leadership. There are quality role models in college athletics, such as Duke University’s head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who led Team USA to a gold medal in London this summer. However, the frequency of scandals shows that there aren’t enough.