My retirement portfolio is filled with different investments. Most of the time, I have no idea what specific companies I am invested in-I leave that to my financial advisor. However, if I learn that I hold shares in a company that conflicts with my personal values, I tend to take a deeper look at whether I should continue my investment in that company.
Like many, I would draw the line at companies that have rampant cultural issues. If they have a pronounced problem with treating men and women equally, I would pay attention. If the company has a problem with firmly addressing and punishing employees who sexually harass other employees or customers, that’s a no go for me. If they aren’t transparent with their shareholders about basic accounting practices and the amount of money spent annually in court defending their practices, I would have to ask if this was a good place to continue investing my money. And if their oversight boards and C-suite employees are almost all white and male, well, you get where I’m headed.
If I didn’t care about any of those things, and I was making boatloads of money as a shareholder in that corporation, well, that’s my choice as well. But, if I were a member who espouses that I do care, wouldn’t I have a vested interest in making the organization a stronger, ethical, more transparent association?
It’s time to state the obvious: Colleges and Universities have been acting more like shareholders than NCAA members.
To prove it, all you need to do is examine the behaviors of Division I, II and III institutions. Are they actively speaking out against, and attempting to reform, the rampant legal, ethical and cultural issues festering in their own national organizational structure? Are schools sitting idly by, happy to collect the annual NCAA March Madness revenues while attempting to ignore the noise from journalists and academics trying to hold them to account?
Watch what they do, not what they say.
NCAA institutions justify their continued membership in the NCAA because it is perceived as a more prestigious association, pays for post season travel, provides rules and regulations, and in the case of some Division I programs, provides hefty paydays. There are no doubt some college presidents who believe their athletes are being provided a quality post season experience just because their teams got in to the post season.
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It might be time to revisit that assumption. All you have to do is look at the lack of progress in:
Do these actions align with your college’s stated goals?
Frank Deford told NPR in 2012 “Why, in particular, do Division III colleges feel a need to align themselves with such a big-foot organization? At the very least, the NCAA is just so unbalanced. Do schools like Williams and Johns Hopkins and Oberlin and Cal Tech really need NCAA oversight just for their students to leave the classrooms and play games?”
“I’d like to have the president of my alma mater — a person I much admire — explain to me if she really thinks the way the NCAA does business is consistent with the ideals that our university professes to stand for. You, too. Go ahead: Contact your college president. Ask the same questions: Does our school just go along as a member of the NCAA because everybody does it? Does our college endorse the imperious, arbitrary way the NCAA treats college athletes? And ultimately: Do we really even need to be in the NCAA?”
As the renown scholar Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” It’s time for college presidents and trustees to decide if they are shareholders or stakeholders in the enterprise of college athletics.