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Group seeks NCAA changes

COIA discusses BCS improvements, athletic stipends

TULSA, Okla. – They threw around ideas people dream about – a 64-team football playoff – and others that might be more realistic: finding a way to let players receive a small stipend in addition to their scholarships.

A group of reform-minded professors who represent their faculties on the Coalition On Intercollegiate Athletics met this weekend to talk about the many changes they’d like to see in college sports and the precious few they might help push through.

This year’s annual meeting came in the midst of some troubling times for college athletics. Over the past year, the NCAA has endured scandals at – to name a few – Miami, North Carolina, Ohio State and, of course, Penn State, where the news of Joe Paterno’s death hit hard Sunday.

It’s been the sad lessons in State College, Pa., that have resonated deepest with many of these professors. A child sex-abuse scandal and its aftermath have come to define the massive, 157-year-old institution instead of academics setting the agenda.

“It’s been a classic example of the tail wagging the dog,” said Nathan Tublitz, a biology professor at Oregon and one of the more vocal voices in COIA. “It’s where an auxiliary enterprise, which is what athletics is, has gotten too big. It’s like the kids telling the parents what to do.”

In hopes of remedying that, COIA explored several questions during its three-day meeting, the full answers to which will be hashed out over the next several weeks, with those results being passed along to faculty senates, athletic departments, school presidents and the NCAA.

Among the topics: Should COIA advocate changes in the BCS?

One of the ideas that came through on the BCS debate was to exchange some of the noncompetitive “guarantee” games at the beginning of the season for a 64-team playoff at the end and use the TV money from the playoff to recoup losses from the missing regular-season games. A pie-in-the-sky idea for sure, though some faculty think a little dreaming isn’t bad for a group such as this one.