U might form new group to oversee athletics

Mike Wereschagin

The Senate Consultative Committee met Thursday to discuss forming a new University watchdog group to oversee athletics. The proposed committee would replace the Assembly Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics.
But with the University’s current governance system, some faculty members question the effectiveness of such a council.
The proposed 12-member committee, called the Faculty Academic Oversight Committee for Intercollegiate Athletics, would for the most part have the same powers as the ACIA, but would also oversee athletics departments’ budgets and gender-equity issues.
However, law professor Kathryn Sedo said the University’s administrative structure would limit the committee’s enforcement power.
The ACIA currently reports to the Senate Consultative Committee, she said. It works closely with the athletics directors on academic and NCAA-compliance issues, but has no power over the office.
In fact, the University senate and assembly can only make recommendations to University President Mark Yudof. If he disregards their advice, they do not have the authority to override him on any issue.
“Other than consultation and advice, the senate and assembly have no power,” Sedo said. “Still, it is appropriate to think (athletics oversight) through and discuss the issues it involves.”
Course load is one of those issues, committee members said. Marvin Marshak, a physics and astronomy professor, suggested that the kind of courses student-athletes take are just as important as the number of credits.
For instance, he said the committee should make sure athletes don’t take an excessive number of physical education and other “fluff” classes.
Fred Morrison, steering committee chairman and law professor, suggested the committee consider whether student-athletes are even here as students.
The new oversight committee could be formed by late January, Morrison said.

Mike Wereschagin welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 X3226.