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College Athletics


Bradley James Bates

John R. Thelin Jason R. Edwards

Robert E. Stammer Jr.

Bradley James Bates

Bradley James Bates

Rachel M. Madsen

Thomas Paskus

Suzanne E. Estler


As entities of a university, athletic departments are visible representatives of higher education and should represent the same ideals that are facilitated throughout an institution. Athletic scandals negatively impact institutional reputations because a conflict in academic and athletic curricular aims becomes apparent. Athletic curricula should be educational in nature and, as such, should facilitate similar values to academic curricula within a diverse context. In this way, the aims of athletic curricula are compatible with academic aims. The integration of athletics and academics should, therefore, create an environment conducive to student-athlete growth.

The American educator and philosopher John Dewey defined growth as the "constant expansion of horizons and consequent formation of new purposes and new responses" (Dewey, p. 175). When values in one environment contradict those in another, growth is limited by confusion and inconsistency. Current trends in intercollegiate athletics often create conflicting curricular aims that deviate from the educational nature of intercollegiate athletics and the educational mission of universities. The infusion of commercialism, rising expenses, increasing salaries for coaches and administrators, and admissions exceptions and poor academic performance of student athletes are indicative of a shift from athletics as a diverse educational entity toward a professional model. Without being rooted in the educational mission of the university, intercollegiate athletics is difficult to justify.

Given the assumption that athletics can only be justified in higher education if inherently educational, the primary role of the athletic curriculum is to maximize the development of peoplestudents become the focus of development, with coaches being the educators and designers of the athletic curriculum. As with academic programs, athletics has curricula, text, and pedagogy, and aims for student-athlete growth. A distinguishing difference, however, between the academic and athletic curricula is measures of student development. Whereas the academic curriculum has various levels of achievement and reward, typically illustrated by grades and degrees, athletics offers a very narrow definition of achievement: winning. Thus, athletic excellence is necessary to maximize the development of students. Athletics provides one of the few enterprises in academia where a group of individuals can strive together through adversity toward a shared vision while facing daily public scrutiny and accountability. If the vision is never achieved, development is limited. Without success, the athletic curriculum does not provide a significant reward, which is critical in maximizing the development of students.

The term intercollegiate athletics is defined as athletic contests between colleges. Colleges grant academic degrees upon completion of designed curricula. As college students, student athletes must attend classes; they must work to complete specific requirements in order to earn a degree; and they must have minimal academic success as determined and sanctioned by the NCAA if they are to continue participating in athletics. As their admission to college is based, at least in part, on academic credentials, athletes must be students. Thus, academic departments are directly involved in the application of athletics within a university: Student athletes must take academic courses. Subsequently, academic curricula influence student athletes. When academic and athletic departments have conflicting aims, problems arise that affect the entire institution. If the values facilitated by academic and athletic curricula were consistent, problems would be diminished.

American society values the elitism of academics and athletics in a manner that provokes conflict for participants in both domains. In essence, athletic elitism is a metaphor for academic elitism: Athletic teams aspire to be national champions, while their affiliate academic institutions seek national rankings. However, the means by which coaches and faculty achieve national reputations can create conflict for student athletes attempting to exist in both environments. Although both aspire to excel, the different measures of excellence for academics and athletics necessitates compromise by those who are placed in both settings.

Ncaa Championships

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) administers national championship contests annually. There are national collegiate championships in gymnastics, volleyball, water polo, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, wrestling (men), fencing, rifle, skiing (men and women), gymnastics, ice hockey, rowing, water polo, and outdoor track and field and volleyball (women), among others. Division I championships include baseball, basketball, cross country, I-AA football, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, swimming and diving, and tennis (men). Women compete for national championships in basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, and indoor track and field. In addition to those sports in which the NCAA sponsors championships, NCAA sports also include archery, badminton, bowling, squash, synchronized swimming, and team handball. In order to participate, member institutions and their students must adhere to eligibility rules as established by the NCAA.

The Economics of Education

Although universities are educational organizations, they must be economically healthy in order to exist. Each department on a campus contributes to the profit or deficit of the university. Departments that operate with a deficit survive only because they are valued programs that the university is willing to subsidize. As a noneducational, extracurricular activity, it is difficult to justify underwriting an athletic department operating at a deficit. When viewed as a unique curricular experience for students, however, it becomes easier to justify the expense.

To remain economically healthy, institutions must continually reevaluate the worth of departments operating at a deficit. The result is an institutional hierarchy of financial worth that creates conflict between departments considered either curricular or extracurricular. For example, a French department was eliminated at a western U.S. university. Faculty within the department suggested that the athletic department, which also operated at a deficit, should be eliminated instead of the French department. They argued that French has an educational mission, and is therefore of greater value to the university than athletics. The business of education thus creates a context of departmental worth.

When viewed exclusively as an entertainment business, it is difficult to justify the economics of an athletic department within higher education. A former executive director of the NCAA has acknowledged that few athletic departments generate revenue, and most athletic departments are economic burdens on their institution. Universities are becoming more reluctant to economically support athletic departments because athletics are not financially productive businesses. Thus, the business of athletics can affect a university's business of educatingathletic departments operate at substantial deficits icits while being treated as extracurricular, noneducational programs. It is only when athletics are viewed as diverse educational experiences for students that athletics can be rationalized as a curriculum worthy of subsidy.

In a survey involving the NCAA's 298 Division I member institutions, Clarence Crawford examined the revenues and expenses of the NCAA and affiliate universities. Existing data from the NCAA were used for the study. Crawford found that "the NCAA had revenues of $152.5 million and expenses of $151.3 million for the year ending August 31, 1991. With an NCAA membership of over 800 four-year colleges and universities, this study utilized 298. Within these 298 schools exist 106 Division IA member schoolsforty percent of which reported budget deficits" (Crawford, p. 3).

During the 1980s, athletic department expenses grew at a rate three times greater than inflation: a rate far surpassing revenues. A significant influence on these expenses was escalating tuition costs. "Between 198182 and 198687, tuitions rose between 20 and 37 percent in different types of higher education institutions" (Sherman, Tikoff, and Masten, p.16). Thus, academic tuition revenues adversely affect athletic department expenses.

To offset deficits, many athletic departments are creatively recruiting corporate sponsors. These arrangements have raised questions regarding regulation, tax exposure, and the commercialism of intercollegiate athletics. In a study conducted by the National Association of College and University Business Officers, concern was expressed with respect to the potential "corrupting influence" (Lederman 1993, p. A27) of corporate relations with athletic departments. As athletic departments attempt to balance budgets, television networks and corporate sponsors are acquiring greater influence over athletic decisions. For example, men's basketball contests are played before televised audiences each weeknight. Was the decision to play during school nights made in the interest of economics or student athletes? It appears that the economics of sports are establishing a context for prostituting higher education and ultimately exploiting student athletes.

Member institutions reported in 1992 that "salaries and wages were the largest single expense for Division IA schools, accounting for 23 percent of operating expenses" (Crawford, p. 5). Grants-in-aid accounted for 17 percent of department expenses; however, this figure changes significantly at private institutions. The economic emphasis on revenue-producing sports is reflected in the distribution of salaries among the most influential people in athletic departments. In 1992 the average base salary for the revenue-producing head coaches was $77,511 for football and $71,151 for men's basketball. Women's basketball head coaches were the highest paid coaches in non-revenue-producing sports. The average base salary for a women's head basketball coach was $40,482. These differences are exacerbated by additional income sources. Football and men's basketball head coaches averaged $25,568 and $20,162, respectively, from additional school benefits, while women's basketball head coaches averaged $4,943 in additional school benefits. Men's basketball head coaches averaged $39,338 and football head coaches averaged $32,835 from outside income, whereas women's basketball head coaches averaged $6,651. The total compensation averages for coaches were: football head coaches, $120,258; men's basketball head coaches, $114,993; and women's basketball head coaches, $46,005. Although these figures are substantial, coaches at prestigious programs are compensated with significantly greater salaries and benefits. During the 20002001 academic year, three football coaches received more than one million dollars in total compensation, and during the 20012002 academic year twenty-two football coaches will receive more than one million dollars for coaching at the Division IA level. The economic significance of revenue-producing sports begins with the athletic faculty.

Base salaries of academic faculty are comparable to athletic coaches. In 1993 the average salary for full professors at public and private doctoral institutions was $66,250, while the average salary for full professors at private institutions was $80,280. These figures are substantial, and compare to athletic faculty salaries. Similarly, faculty in prestigious programs are compensated with significantly greater salaries and benefitsparticularly at institutions with medical schools. The economic significance of the elite athletic programs parallels elite academic departments.

There appears to be a cyclical perpetuation of status, reputation, and financial resources in athletics that is analogous to academia. The most reputable athletic programs have the greatest resources and attract the most athletically talented student athletes. For example, the difference in annual operating budget expenditures between the highest and lowest member schools in a Division IA conference was more than $16 million. It is obvious which athletic department had the more successful teams. Similarly, "the most prestigious institutions attract the best-prepared students from the most affluent and highly educated families, spend the most on their educational programs, pay their faculties the highest salaries, and charge the highest tuition and fees" (Astin, p. 11). The universities with the greatest reputations and resources annually garner the highest rankings, just as the same football and basketball programs are traditionally rated by pollsters in the top twenty. Resources foster success and success breeds resources.

See also: College Athletics, subentries on Athletic Scholarships, College Students as Athletes, History of Athletics in U.S. Colleges and Universities, Intramural Athletics in U.S. Colleges and Universities, NCAA Rules and Regulations.


Astin, Alexander. 1985. Achieving Educational Excellence: A Critical Assessment of Priorities and Practices in Higher Education. San Francisco:Jossey-Bass.

Crawford, Clarence C. 1992. Intercollegiate Athletics: Revenues and Expenses, Gender and Minority Profiles, and Compensation in Athletic Departments. Hearings before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Competitiveness of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 345 639).

Dewey, John. 1916. Democracy and Education. New York: Macmillan.

Gerdy, John R. 1994. "How Televised Sports Can Further the Goals of Higher Education." Chronicle of Higher Education 12 (7):A52.

Lederman, David. 1987. "Southern Methodist U. Revamps Governance. Chronicle of Higher Education 33:3132.

Lederman, David. 1993. "Draft Report by Business Officers' Group Says Colleges Must Rein in Sports Budgets." Chronicle of Higher Education 39 (46):A27A28.

Magner, Denise K. 1993. "AAUP Survey Finds Faculty Salaries Rose 2.5% in 199293." Chronicle of Higher Education 39 (32):A19, A22A26.

National Collegiate Athletic Association. 2000. 20002001 NCAA Division I Manual. Indianapolis, IN: National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Sherman, Daniel; Tikoff, Valentina K.; and Masten, Charles. 1991. Issues in Public Higher Education. Background Papers Prepared for the Study of the Escalating Costs of Higher Education. Washington, DC: Office of Policy and Planning (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 354 800).

Shulman, James L., and Bowen, William G. 2001. The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Sperber, Murray. 1990. "Despite the Mythology, Most Colleges Lose Money on Big-Time Sports." Chronicle of Higher Education 37: B1, B3.

Zimbalist, Andrew. 1999. Unpaid Professionals: Commercialism and Conflict in Big-Time College Sports. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Bradley James Bates


Intercollegiate athletics in the United States has come to be regarded as higher education's "peculiar institution." This somewhat critical characterization results from the fact that although intercollegiate athletics is seldom listed as part of the central mission of a college or university, athletics have come to command inordinate visibility, resources, influence, and attention both inside and outside many campuses. Analyzing, explaining, and dealing with this disparity between official philosophy and actual practice presents a complex analytic task. To truly understand the present situation requires a reconstruction of college athletics' unique historical evolution.

Visitors to an American campus cannot help but be struck by the physical presence of the intercollegiate athletics enterprise. In the twenty-first century, it is not unusual for a major university campus to contain both a football stadium that seats 70,000 spectators and a basketball arena that accommodates audiences of 20,000. In the year 2000 many universities had annual operating budgets for athletics ranging between $30 million and $60 million. The success and pervasiveness of college sports described was not inevitable, but is the result of particular innovations and episodes over the past 150 years.

The Violent Birth of Intercollegiate Sports

Prior to 1850 intercollegiate sports played a marginal role in collegiate life. If there was a need for physical activity in the student regimen, college presidents and deans thought manual labor in the form of farming or clearing boulders from college lands fit the bill perfectly. Though admittedly both economical and expedient, students, not surprisingly, remained unconvinced that this was the type of physical release that their souls craved. Instead, collegiate student bodies increasingly devised their own elaborate (and often brutal) intramural contests known as "class rushes." These "rushes" usually involved some variation of football, which actually provided a pretext for a ritualistic and violent hazing of the incoming freshman by the sophomore class.

College officials struggled to curb these violent student traditions, but intramural sports persisted within the campus and eventually took a decisive turn toward sanctioned and refereed events in which a team representing one institution competed against its counterpart from another. Despite the increase in organization, administrators initially were not eager, generally speaking, to embrace such contests that they viewed as inappropriate distractions from serious scholarly work. Indicative of the administrative outrage at such elaborate contests was the telegram that the president of Cornell sent to officials at the University of Michigan in 1873 when he learned that student teams from the two institutions were planning to meet in Cleveland for a football game: "I will not permit thirty men to travel four hundred miles merely to agitate a bag of wind" (Rudolph, p. 374375).

Whether or not Cornell's president won this particular battle, he and college presidents elsewhere lost the war of curbing intercollegiate athletic contests. With or without administrative blessings, college students formed athletic associations that included mechanisms for raising money, charging fees, sponsoring events, and selling tickets. And, by the 1890s, at many colleges, alumni groups joined with the student organizations to create formidable programs over which the college presidents and faculty exercised relatively little control.

Though college athletics would quickly be dominated by certain sports and by powerful institutions, the outstanding feature of college athletics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was its pervasiveness and diversity across American institutions. Although the oldest and largest institutionsHarvard and Yalequickly gained the most attention in newspaper coverage and provided the largest athletic budgets, numerous other campuses made significant contributions as well. For instance, Springfield College in western Massachusetts, originally known as the International YMCA Training School, was where James Naismith invented basketball in 1891. Nearby, Amherst College initiated varsity baseball and incorporated calisthenics and physical fitness into the collegiate curriculum. By 1900 the popularity of collegiate sports was reflected by its adoption in even all-girls schools. Wellesley College, for example, acquired renown for having developed a distinctively female approach to such sports as crew, basketball, and physical fitness. Other examples of innovations in American college sports before the turn of the twentieth century include:

  • First intercollegiate crew regatta (Harvard vs. Yale): 1852
  • First intercollegiate baseball game (Williams vs. Amherst): 1859
  • First intercollegiate football association (Harvard-Yale-Princeton): 1872
  • First intercollegiate track and field association (Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletics of America, or IC4A): 1875
  • First intercollegiate tennis match: 1883
  • First intercollegiate ice hockey game (Harvard vs. Brown): 1895
  • First intercollegiate gymnastics competition: 1899

The Maturing of a Collegiate Way of Life

As American higher education itself was largely nurtured in the Northeast, likewise in sports, this region also led the way in developing the intercollegiate sports that now seem so familiar. Heading into a new century, Yale dominated football and also came to be known as the "cradle of coaches" as it spread the Yale football gospel of strategy and sportsmanship across the nation. By 1910 Harvard obtained the national championship in football and asserted itself in numerous other sports. Harvard would also set the pace in terms of spectator facilities with the construction, in 1904, of Soldiers' Fieldconsidered the finest, largest example of reinforced concrete architecture in the period. This regional predilection for architectural and spectator expansion continued when the Yale Bowl opened in 1914 with a grand design and a seating capacity of more than 70,000.

Although the eastern seaboard colleges initiated college sports, their models and lessons soon were emulated in regions across the country. In the mid-nineteenth century, faculty representatives from Midwestern universities formed the Western Conference a formal group popularly known then and now as the Big Ten Conference. Within that conference, the universities of Michigan and Chicago set the pace with spectator appeal and winning teams.

The young University of Chicago was especially important as a leader in the structure and control of a high powered varsity sports program. Whereas many presidents had resisted and resented the ascent of intercollegiate athletics, the University of Chicago's administration embraced college sports. Chicago's young, brash president, William Rainey Harper, saw the athletic contests as an opportunity to connect the campus to the greater community and thereby generate goodwill, revenue, and attention for his model institution. The creation of a large stadium combined with a mass marketing effort that succeeded in generating popular appeal and large ticket sales. Harper found the ideal partner to help him carry out his brave new vision of commercialized collegiate athletics in Amos Alonzo Stagg. As coach and athletic director, Stagg, a Yale graduate and storied football hero, oversaw the University of Chicago's athletic department for forty years.

The importance of Stagg's tenure in athletics at Chicago lies in the fact that he (with the president and board's support) created a structure that gave substantial autonomy and influence to the athletic department within the normally complex and Byzantine university administrative structure. Though holding faculty status, Stagg's program budget was exempted from conventional bureaucratic procedures. He reported directly to the president and the board of trustees, with no oversight from academic deans or faculty budget committees. In addition, Stagg generated extra income for himself and his program by being allowed to use the university facilities to sponsor promotional events, host state high school track meets, and hold instructional camps. Such a situation made Stagg and his department the envy of other athletic leaders who in turn pushed their own institutions to adopt similar procedures in order to create the winning programs that alumni and donors demanded.

New England colleges also played a crucial role in the evolution of administration and control of college sports. Harvard's hiring of Bill Reid as a well-paid, full-time football coach in 1901 represented a major escalation of professionalizing college coaches. After Reid's hiring, coaches across the country realized that if they won they too could demand the high salary and substantial benefits enjoyed by Harvard's head coach. During his long tenure at Yale as athletic director, Walter Camp seemingly perfected the financial and political control of an entire athletic program with little accountability to students, faculty, or academic administration. Camp also used his Yale position as the base from which to create an enterprising network of syndicated newspaper columns, annual guides, endorsements, and other lucrative, influential college sports publications.

The turn of the century did not mark simply heady days for the burgeoning athletic programs. Many students and some alumni resented that the emerging organizational scheme tended to give inordinate and enduring support to a few selected spectator (and hence revenue-generating) sportsnamely, footballwith relatively few resources being dedicated to numerous other varsity squads. Additionally, the power and popularity of intercollegiate athletics led directly to conspicuous abuse. Even at this early juncture, a lack of regulation and fair play both on and off the field left college athletics indelibly marked by corruption and a reputation that has plagued "big-time" college sports to this day. More significantly, as the games "professionalized," brutality often increased. At times, it seemed that the days of Roman crowds chanting for gladiatorial blood were returning.

At the turn of the century, the situation had deteriorated to the point that President Theodore Roosevelt summoned university presidents to the White House with an ultimatum that they eliminate brutality from the playing field or risk federal intervention. The violence did decrease, and the development of better protective equipment also aided in safeguarding the athletes, but the problems were far from solved. No standards were set in areas such as eligibility and scholarships, thereby blurring the line of definition for supposedly amateur contests between students. In an attempt to bring order to these increasingly popular competitions, the National Collegiate Athletic Association was formed in the early 1900s. This could only be considered a Pyrrhic victory, however, for the historic East Coast universities, which had the strongest athletic programs in the country, refused to cooperate and boycotted the organizational meeting with institutions from the Midwest and West. Consequently, intercollegiate athletics lacked any semblance of meaningful nation-wide coordination over the next half century.

Athletics Out West

As Frederick Jackson Turner postulated for the entire nation: Though born and raised in the East, Americans and their institutions are ultimately defined and refined in the West. Collegiate athletics certainly followed Turner's thesis as the rise of spectator and student interest in college sports spread to the Pacific Coast. Between World War I and World War II the geographical balance of power in dominance of college sports shifted. The June 1937 issue of Life magazine devoted to "going to college in America" included a feature article titled, "Sports Records Move West." The emergence of top caliber intercollegiate teams in the Midwest and on the Pacific Coast "left Eastern collegians clinging to a steadily dwindling share of athletic supremacy." This led the editors to observe that: "In the past two decades, athletic reputation has largely moved West and South" (Life, p. 7273).

Increasingly, college sports became a symbolic litmus test of regional and/or ethnic esteem and assimilation. For example, in the 1920s in South Bend, Indiana, the University of Notre Dame gained national visibility by becoming a rallying point for American Catholic pride and affiliation. Its victories over established East Coast football teams and national symbols such as West Point provided American Catholics with a sense of accomplishment and belonging. This trend continued well into the 1960s, for example, when African Americans used sports to break color barriers, particularly in southern universities. The national basketball championship won by Texas Western in 1966 with an all-black starting fiveover the perennially powerful University of Kentucky and its all-white squadmarked an important shift in recruitment and acceptance of black players.

Various regions of the country have also rallied around school sports programs. Since 1926 the annual intersectional contests between Notre Dame and the University of Southern California regularly attracted crowds of over 100,000, whether played in Los Angeles or Chicago, and provided victorious regions the enjoyment of martial bragging rights without the sacrifice of actual military battle. Starting in 1946 the annual New Year's Day Rose Bowl Game matched the champion of the Midwest's Big Ten Conference against the championship team from the Pacific Coast Conferenceand thus provided victorious regions the enjoyment of martial bragging rights without the sacrifice of actual military battle. Tiny schools and forgotten regions could gain instant, if fleeting, national attention by successfully competing with national powers, such as when unheralded Centre College of Kentucky gained national headlines in the 1920s for spirited playand an eventual victoryover Harvard's football squad in 1921. Finally, as with anything that has mass appeal, politicians endeared themselves to the electorate by associating with and supporting local schools. Perhaps the grandest example of such activities occurred when Huey Long, the indefatigable governor of Louisiana, pronounced in 1928 that Louisiana State University was the "People's University," and called on the people of the state to share in its wealth of championship teams and its magnificent football stadium.

From Chaos to Concern

Colleges and universities paid a dear price for the popularity of intercollegiate athletics. The strong, pervasive, and enduring appeal of varsity teams, combined with the quest by alumni, local boosters, and college officials for championship squads, meant that even by the 1920s the activities associated with recruiting and compensating college student athletes were largely unregulated chaos. This was most dramatically exposed in 1929 when the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching released its comprehensive study American College Athletics, written by Howard Savage. According to this report, meaningful reform in American collegiate sports could take place only if campus presidents replaced the "downtown crowd," comprising a city's businessmen, alumni boosters, and commercial interests, as the source of leadership and responsibility. The initial response of university presidents was outrage and denial, but when the Carnegie Foundation stood by its allegations and released more documentation, academic leaders showed some public signs of interest in reform. Shoring up conferences by adding regulations and a commissioner was one gesture. Ironically, conference reforms were often counterproductive because they merely gave official approval to such practices as training tables that provided college players with free meals daily, along with subsidies for athletes, and alliances with booster clubs that previously had been cited as the problems of unregulated college sports.

Immediately after World War II, the unresolved excesses of intercollegiate athletics gained unprecedented publicity. Returning armed-service veterans swelled the ranks of varsity athletics squads. Many presidents and athletic directors placed no restrictions on the number of athletic scholarships allowed, and some football squads included three hundred players for opening practice, with more than one hundred athletes on scholarship. Excesses were accompanied by illegalities. Between 1948 and 1952 exposés and successful prosecutions of student-athletes, coaches, and alumni boosters involved in point-shaving schemes and gambling cartels led to congressional hearings and a call for nationwide oversight by academic leaders. When organizations led by college presidents, such as the American Council on Education, failed to present a coherent plan, regulatory power was given to the National Collegiate Athletics Associationan organization whose primary charge had previously been to simply promote championship tournaments. Meanwhile, at the conference level, presidents and faculty delegates attempted to introduce standards of student conduct and eligibility into policies and practices. If New England colleges had been pioneers in the creation and expansion of college sports in the first half of the century, after World War II they again assumed a leadership role in the reform and removal of excess. Most noticeable were the codes and restraints demonstrated by the "Little Three"Amherst, Williams, and Wesleyan. In 1956 the formal creation of the Ivy Group (League) provided a model of presidential and faculty oversight of college sports.

The economics of intercollegiate athletics was slowly but persistently altered in the 1950s due to the simultaneous appearance of two phenomena: (1) professional sports teams in football and basketball, and (2) the availability of radio and television for live broadcasts of sporting events. All college teams, ranging from the established powerful university squads to the small college teams, feared that the popularity of the National Football League and the National Basketball Association would cause declining attendance at college games. Small college squads faced a second threat: national and regional broadcasts of a few selected "big-time" college games prompted many long-time fans to stay at home rather than buy a stadium ticket on Saturday afternoons. The result was a shake-out in college sports programs over two decades in which a substantial number of institutions opted, or were financially forced, to drop football.

College Sports in the Age of Aquarius

In the late 1960s shifting cultural values forced widespread changes in sports policies and emphases. As other athletes demanded equality, granting athletic scholarships ceased to be confined to a handful of traditional revenue sportsnamely, football and basketball. By 1970 athletic grants-in-aid were increasingly prevalent for such sports as track, soccer, lacrosse, hockey, wrestling, baseball, and swimming. Expanding the excellence and the number of squads tended to swell athletic department operating expenses, but the small fan base of these sports failed to cover the increased costs. Consequently, institutes of higher learning faced growing philosophical and economic problems within their athletic programs. The financial brinkmanship would be subjected to even greaterand unexpectedstress in the 1970s.

Much more vocally and powerfully than "minor" sports athletes, females increasingly sought equal treatment from institutions in regards to athletics. Their actions would lead to a dramatic change in intercollegiate sports: the inclusion of women as bona fide participants in varsity athletics. The Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), created in the 1950s, led the way in increasing financial support of female athletic programs and scholarships for women. This too placed institutions and athletic departments in dire financial straits, for female sports did not generate enough fan interest to be self-supporting. This largely became a moot point in 1972, however, due to the landmark Title IX legislation that prohibited, with some exceptions, discrimination by gender in provision of educational programs. Consequently, college athletics in many ways moved from the playing fields to the court rooms as individuals challenged institutional compliance with this federal mandate. Between 1972 and 1990 colleges and courts groped for a clear interpretation of precisely what was intended and required in terms of social justice and institutional compliance for women as student-athletes. In 1997 the Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings requiring Brown University to comply with Title IX guidelines on proportionality.

Originally, a school could demonstrate compliance in athletics in one of four ways: have a proportional number of male and female participants; have a proportional relationship between female athletes and female students; demonstrate increasing opportunity for females to participate in athletics; or show that female participation in athletics matched their interest and ability to participate. However, most subsequent court rulings have demanded that the most stringent of the four tests be met, insisting that schools have a proportional number of participants in men's and women's athletics and thereby a proportional number of scholarships for each gender. This rigorous interpretation of directives for compliance with Title IX legislation has proven difficult for institutions due to the disparity of income and male and female sports generate. For instance, many athletic departments rely on football to fund their entire operating budgets, but fielding a football team requires providing scholarships for more than sixty male students. Therefore, under Title IX directives, more than sixty female students must also be given athletic scholarships, which then requires athletic departments to create enough female sports to field sixty participants with the knowledge that these activities will not garner enough fan support to pay for their existence. Consequently, athletic directors nationwide have eliminated many non-revenue male sports, with the claim that athletics programs can no longer afford to fund them. The corollary is that athletic directors have viable alternatives to eliminating men's teams such as wrestling and swimming. The net result of these conflicting interpretations is that many intercollegiate athletics programs are held in suspense on their character and composition. Though difficult, failure to comply with Title IX directives can bring harsh and far-reaching repercussions; therefore academic leaders and athletic directors continue to review their intercollegiate athletic enterprise to ensure that women are equally represented.

Competing in a Brave New Century of Sport

The most conspicuous example of the problems of success and popularity that faced intercollegiate athletics in the late twentieth century can be seen in the 1991 and 2001 reform reports of the Knight Foundation Commission on the Future of Intercollegiate Athletics. The absence of a government agency, combined with the limits of such voluntary associations as the National Collegiate Athletic Association to bring integrity to the governance of college sports, has prompted foundations to take the lead in promoting public discussion of the issues and problems. In 1991 the Knight Foundation panel, dominated by university presidents along with some executives and legislators, proposed that strong presidential involvement was the key to protecting the interests of student-athletes. A decade later, the emphasis was on cost containment as the essential ingredient in curbing the commercialism of intercollegiate sports. Whether or not such reforms have a widespread and enduring influence, intercollegiate athletics persist, for better or worse (or both), as a distinctive part of American higher education.

By the 1990s discussions about student-athletes had shifted from the question, "Are college athletics being paid?" to the proposition, "How much should college athletes be paid?" Such debates followed logically from research by economists who concluded that the National Collegiate Athletic Association had become a highly lucrative cartel, and that athletes participating in big-time programs were, in essence, often being exploited by their institutions and associations as "unpaid professionals." Furthermore, coaches in high profile sports enhanced their stature as celebrities rather than as educators, complete with endorsements and special contracts to supplement their base salaries. To increase the seriousness of these concerns, athletic programs at all institutions, including the most conspicuous ones, faced a paradox of prosperity: despite unprecedented revenues, most teams and programs were not financially self-supporting. Even at the Division IA level of NCAA competition, future funding of intercollegiate athletics faced a situation of dubious fiscal fitness.

The conventional wisdom was that overemphasis on intercollegiate athletics was most prevalent in the relatively small number of big-time programs at large universities. Yet significant, systematic research sponsored by the Mellon Foundation in 2000 suggested otherwise. William G. Bowen and James Shulman's study, The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values, complicated the profile with their finding that even ator, perhaps, especially atacademically selective and relatively small-sized colleges and universities, the demands on student-athletes' time were substantial. Furthermore, at these institutions, usually regarded as apart from athletic excess, commitment to strong varsity sports programs tended to exert inordinate influence on such decisions as admissions and allocation of campus resources. Academic and public concern over the proper place of athletics in American colleges and universities remained problematic at most institutions at the start of the twenty-first century.

See also: College Athletics, subentries on Academic Support Systems for Athletes, Athletic Scholarships, College Students as Athletes, NCAA Rules and Regulations, The National Collegiate Athletic Association, The Role and Scope of Intercollegiate Athletics in U.S. Colleges and Universities.


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Shulman, James L., and Bowen, William G. 2000. The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Smith, Ronald. 1988. Sports and Freedom: The Rise of Big-Time College Athletics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sperber, Murray. 1990. College Sports, Inc.: The Athletic Department vs. The University. New York: Henry Holt.

Sperber, Murray. 1999. Onward to Victory: The Crises That Shaped College Sports. New York: Henry Holt.

"Sports Records Move West." 1937. Life June 7, 7273.

Thelin, John R. 1994. Games Colleges Play: Scandal and Reform in Intercollegiate Athletics. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Zimbalist, Andrew. 1999. Unpaid Professionals: Commercialism and Conflict in Big-Time College Sports. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

John R. Thelin

Jason R. Edwards


College athletics are associated with many benefits for student athletes. Besides the thrill of actually competing and learning how both wins and losses parallel many of life's lessons, the single largest associated benefit of athletic competition for scholarship athletes is the opportunity of earning a valuable degree. Academic support systems for student athletes can improve academic success and graduation potential.

Components and Resources

Although the following components of an academic support system are certainly not inclusive, the items listed are fundamental and essential to the development of a good academic support system.

Student Athletes . The better the academic quality of the students involved, the easier the job of academic support. But standardized test scores and high school grades cannot measure a student's desire or maturity. A poor high-school grade point average and low standardized test scores can be transformed into good college grades through dedication and an athlete's naturally competitive spirit. However, student athletes can also be somewhat pampered or sheltered before college, and the rigors of athletic demands and poor time management can contribute to academic underachievement.

Faculty . Faculty members are the true first line of communication regarding a student-athlete's academic performance. If communication and trust are fostered, everyone benefits. Faculty advisers must be the first source of academic advice.

Athletic Counselors . Roles of athletic counselors vary, often involving eligibility issues, personal counseling and academic advice, and simply being a friend and cheerleader. Listening skills, trust, and respect are key ingredients to a successful relationship between a student athlete and a counselor.

Tutors . Tutors can play a part in the academic success of student athletes. Careful screening, knowledge of subject, clear and concise tutoring rules, a system of checks and balances that can be enforced and monitored, and regular evaluations are critical elements for success.

Computer Resources . Maximizing a student's academic success without adequate computer support is difficult. The ready availability of computers for student athletes to use to complete academic assignments can be critical. Either the university or the athletic department can provide the computers. Dedicated machines for exclusive student-athlete use tend to be the growing trend. Having enough computers is essential. Many excellent academic support centers tend to have exclusive-use, desktop computers in an academic center laboratory, with additional laptops for use during team travel for competitions.

Nurturing Study Environment . Successful academic support centers tend to have a dedicated study area where student athletes can study in a quiet environment with easy access to both computers and tutors. Such a place becomes the defacto location to study for student athletes. Fostering the identity of this facility and insuring that disruptive behavior is not tolerated are essential.

Action Items

Many of the following action items are techniques and policies that can enhance the success of an student-athlete support center.

Good Faculty Contacts and Relationships . Having 100 percent faculty support is a rarity, and in actuality probably is an impossibility. Some schools have close to 100 percent faculty support, while other athletic departments have few friends in the faculty ranks for a variety of reasons. Regardless of the current situation, athletic departments should work diligently to mend damaged relationshipsand look to foster new ones. Simply stated, the student-faculty relationship is fundamental because it is where academics and athletics meet. If communication lines are strong, initial problems can be recognized and improved before small problems become large ones. Regular telephone conversations, e-mail exchanges, early-semester warnings of academic shortcomings, mid-semester deficiency reports, and various surveys are all means that can be helpful in gathering information. It is important to recognize how critical this type of early-warning information is, and that it is available only from the student athlete or the professor. Appeals for this information should stress the value of recognizing any concerns and problems early. Faculty should be reminded that student athletes have routinely waived the rights to information privacy granted them under the Buckley Amendment (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA). The student-authorized waiver allows the release of valuable academic information to NCAA, conference, and university officials. Thus, a student athlete has generally accepted that professors can release this type of academic information to academic support staff.

Student-Athlete Stratification . Most academic support centers have limited resources, as well as student-counselor ratios that they consider too large. In a situation where resources are limited and maximizing staff efforts is important, stratifying the student-athlete population can be very useful and necessary. For example, upperclass students who have proven themselves to be responsible students will need less attention and effort than first-year students whose academic status is unknown. Devoting the most time and resources to those populations where these resources can result in the most benefits is only reasonable.

Regular Counselor Meetings . Athletic counselors should meet regularly with all students. Established, conscientious upperclass students may require only one or two meetings per semester or quarter. Freshmen and others on a so-called watchlist, and those deemed to be at risk by whatever criteria are used, should meet with their athletic counselors at least once a week, and preferably more often. Counselors can stand outside classes and count students attending class, or even attend random classes themselves, but the best way to monitor knowledge intake is to check a student's class notes regularly. Everyone has been in a class or a meeting in body only, with the mind wandering elsewhere. By checking a student's notes weekly (or more frequently), and by quizzing them from their notes, confidence levels about a student being both present and engaged in a class are increased. Making students understand that notes must be takenon what is being done in class, and not only for test purposesis a proven way to maximize both attendance and engagement. Even a crafty student will soon recognize that notes cannot be copied or created if they are going to be quizzed routinely, and anything less than attending class and taking notes requires more effort. Once this is recognized, a great academic leap will be achieved.

Study-Hour Incentives . Many college students view required study hours as being part of a high school mentality. Establishing a system with incentives so that a student athlete earns his or her way out of organized study hour requirements is essential. The conscientious student will recognize the relationship between performance and responsibility and will work to earn more freedom. Others will take longer and, unfortunately, some never learn.

The final aspect of study-hall hours is to insure productivity. These hours are not for socializing, sleeping, or playing computer games. Academic productivity (e.g., required note-taking from textbooks, homework inspection, and other techniques) must be monitored.

Subdivision of Large Assignments . Poor time management, competing assignments, or a feeling of simply being overwhelmed can lead to poor performance on a critical assignment, whether it be an English paper or a major project. Taking a larger assignment and dividing it into smaller, incremental, and more manageable assignments over a longer time period will enhance the final product and reduce student stress. The key is to start early and to require incremental progress reports.

Time Management Skills . Time management sessions that are developed internally or that rely on university personnel and resources are encouraged. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) allows the preparation and distribution of free planners (a.k.a. day timers ) by an institution, as long as it is fully generated in-house without any product endorsements or commercialization. These planners can aid time management and provide a good document that both student and counselor can inspect and use collectively. Finally, the distribution of the coming semester's planner coincides nicely with the return of a student's textbooks at the end of a semester. Thus, the student athlete has a planning document early to begin preparing and recording tasks for the upcoming semester.

Tutoring Sessions . Because of the importance of good tutorial support, completion of tutor session forms by each tutor and end-of-semester evaluations by students of their tutors are recommended. The tutor-completed form can be a simple checklist with minimal narrative. If a completed tutoring session becomes part of the payment process for the tutor, then they become expected and routine. The tutor session form can also indicate other aspects of the session, such as punctuality, student preparation, attentiveness, and tutor recommendations for further work. They can also be used later to summarize the number of sessions by semester, subject, course, individual student, team, or student classification (e.g., freshmen).

Policy and Procedures Manual . Personnel change and ambiguity in policies and procedures can exist. A policy and procedure manual (PPM) cannot assure total elimination of possible confusion or differing interpretations, but "putting it in writing" will reduce the possibilities of confusion. The PPM is also a sensible way to document how an academic support center should function.

Opportunities to Exchange Ideas . Regularly scheduled meetings between students and counselors have already been mentioned. Other meetings, such as regular staff meetings, retreats, and student-athlete evaluations of their counselors, are critical. Facilitating communication downward, upward, and laterally is critical for all parties to remain informed and functioning cohesively.


Communication and trust are critical ingredients in the successful operation of any academic support center. These two attributes have been mentioned both explicitly and implicitly. But communication and trust at all levels leads to a more successful academic support system. However, no one action or series of actions can insure success. The ideas presented here will be beneficial when considered and implemented. An athletic counselor's fundamental responsibility is to provide the guidance and resources that will help each student athlete maximize his or her academic accomplishments.

See also: College Athletics, subentries on Athletic Scholarships, College Students as Athletes, History of Athletics in U.S. Colleges and Universities, NCAA Rules and Regulations, The National Collegiate Athletic Association, The Role and Scope of Intercollegiate Athletics in U.S. Colleges and Universities.

Robert E. Stammer Jr.


The benefits of receiving an athletic scholarship from a university or college have evolved significantly since the origins of athletic grants-in-aid. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) guidelines provide member institutions with the autonomy to offer athletic scholarships to prospective student-athletes based on their athletic and academic abilities. The NCAA has minimum academic guidelines that categorize students as certified for participation as "qualifiers." Two other categories limit participation and financial assistance"partial qualifiers" and "nonqualifiers." In an effort to create a competitively equitable financial context, the NCAA establishes specific limits as to the total number of grantsin-aid institutions are allowed to provide to prospective student-athletes. In addition to receiving financial aid, qualifiers receiving an athletic scholarship are certified through the NCAA to have access to numerous resources such as scholarships and academic support through both NCAA member institutions and the NCAA itself. Certification is required by an NCAA-approved certification agency that reviews coursework completed by high school prospects. The agency approves core units earned to ensure students meet NCAA minimum performance guidelines for qualification to participate in athletic competition.

Financial Support

Institutional financial aid is administered by each member institution and begins with "the cost of attendance (which is) an amount calculated by an institutional financial aid office, using federal regulations, that includes the total cost of tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and other expenses related to attendance at the institution" (NCAA, p. 176). The NCAA categorizes sports into two areas of financial aid: head-count sports and equivalency sports. Head-count sports are those in which each student who receives financial aid is provided with the actual cost of attendance as determined by the institution. Equivalency sports allow coaches to allocate different combinations of financial aid in various forms such as tuition, books, fees, housing costs, or meals. In addition to financial assistance provided by an athletic scholarship, the NCAA has alternative means of financial assistance accessible by student athletes in the form of its Special Assistance Fund. This fund ranges from providing expenses for family emergencies to a clothing allowance for need-based students. Student athletes receiving athletic aid are also allowed to work during academic semesters, earning up to a specified amount of money, and to work out-side the normal academic calendar (summers and vacations).


An athletic scholarship provides the means for students who compete athletically to attend an institution of higher education and ultimately earn a degree. The value of this education varies greatly, from the approximately $37,000 annual cost of attendance at private universities (in 2001) to less expensive tuition expenses at public institutions. The inherent value of a formal education in a postsecondary institution has been debated relative to the revenues generated by major collegiate sports and the ever-increasing salaries of head coaches. When viewed as a preparatory system for aspiring professional athletes, student athletes can be perceived as semiprofessionals who receive an athletic education of not insignificant value from skilled coaches. Additionally, if higher education sustains a pragmatic and philosophical justification for intercollegiate athletics as an inherently educational endeavor, then the value of the curriculum, both academic and athletic, provides satisfactory compensation for participation. Participation in a sport should be approached by the university as inherently developmental: the values acquired through engaging in athletic activities should be consistent with values learned in the academic curriculum and should primarily be aimed at maximizing the development of students. Thus, participation in athletics is itself the reward, as people grow through the experience.

Academic Support

Admissions advantages for student athletes have increased significantly over time. With the evolving weight given to athletic ability in the admissions process, institutions have been increasing their resources for supporting at-risk students. Most member institutions now provide an academic support center that focuses on the retention of student athletes through academic eligibility guidelines established by member institutions and the NCAA. Academic counselors, typically employed by the department of athletics, serve as guides to the academic curriculum for student athletes, while also assisting students in time management, class registration, tutorial sessions, satisfactory progress requirements, and graduate school opportunities. In many ways, these counselors mentor student athletes in ways in which coaches are unable to because they have a weaker power relationship with student athletes. Academic counselors do not determine student athletes' playing time, and thus, as guardians of student-athlete retention via academic eligibility, they often develop stronger relationships with students than faculty and can influence their academic decisions.

Academic counselors will typically establish a comprehensive system of monitoring for freshmen. Daily class checks and accountability for assignments make up much of the academic center's function. Once student athletes demonstrate that they have adapted to the curriculum, counselors will wean the students off their structure and allow more independence in terms of class preparation and registration.

CHAMPS/Life Skills

The NCAA, in an effort to encourage a holistic approach to educating student athletes, developed the CHAMPS/Life Skills program in conjunction with the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. This program, adapted by most members of the NCAA, attempts to maximize the total development of student athletes through engagement in career development, the academic curriculum, community service, counseling, leadership development, diversity training, and athletic development. This program utilizes campus resources while incorporating the unique challenges of intercollegiate athletics. Ultimately, the goal is to develop student athletes in every facet of their higher education experience. Perhaps the most utilized aspect of the Life Skills format is career development. Working with the university career center, most student athletes prepare for interviews and career fairs by capitalizing on career counselors and software programs made available to them through the program. Some institutions circulate booklets to alumni which contain senior student-athlete resumes in an effort to place them in productive and satisfying positions of employment.

Residential Affairs

An athletic scholarship for head-count sports allows the institution to cover the cost of residence during the student athletes' years of eligibility. Residential requirements vary significantly throughout higher education and range from mandatory dormitory requirements to off-campus housing subsidies. Each institution has a philosophical approach to residential education that ranges from significant emphasis (mandatory residency requirements) to commuter campuses. In the early 1980s, the NCAA eliminated athletic dormitories that were exclusively used by student athletes. The result is a more integrated campus community in terms of student athletes and their peers.


An athletic scholarship provides student athletes with access to those who are experts in developing students in their sport-specific curriculum: namely, coaches. When viewed as educators, coaches utilize a diverse educational entity (athletics) to maximize the development of students. The athletic curriculum should not only facilitate improved athletic skill, but should encompass values such as leadership, discipline, competitiveness, and other holistic qualities that serve students outside the athletic domain. A significant component necessary to maximizing the development of student athletes is success. Without success, student athletes do not have the opportunity to work together toward a shared vision and actually experience the attainment of that vision. In athletics, success is narrowly defined: winning. Thus, winning is an essential part of the athletic curriculum.

As educators, coaches need to develop students not only in the skills of their specific sport, but must also utilize sport development to facilitate holistic growth in their students. Very few aspects of the academic curriculum introduce public competition and scrutiny in a way that invites adversity. Experiencing the dynamics of the athletic curriculum, including the intense competition within a narrow definition of success while facing scrutiny through various media outlets (talk radio, chat lines, newspapers, electronic media) offers a unique experience with the potential of elevating the student athletes' experiences in ways the academic curriculum cannot usually replicate. Thus, as creators of the athletic curriculum within higher education, coaches have a responsibility to their student athletes to facilitate their development.

Dining Services

Perhaps the greatest difference between students and student athletes is in their respective nutritional needs. Some athletes expend great quantities of calories, and therefore require replacement fluids for hydration and calories for physical development. Student athletes in sports where additional body weight presents a competitive disadvantage (gymnastics, cross country) are often placed in a situation where students predisposed to eating disorders struggle with their physical maturation and caloric expenditures. The NCAA allows each institution to provide, as part of an athletic scholarship, sufficient funds to cover three meals each day including one meal served by the athletic department training table to student-athletes receiving aid.

Sports Medicine

Student athletes participating on intercollegiate teams are entitled to institutionally provided medical resources. Typical of sports medicine and athletic training departments are team doctors and certified athletic trainers. The range of available resources extends from surgery to taping ankles. The nature of the sports medicine focus is injury prevention and rehabilitation.

Other Benefits

In addition to the previously mentioned provisions of athletic scholarships, student athletes receive equipment for competition and practice, coaches who specialize in strength development and cardiovascular conditioning, athletic department staff who market teams and individuals, and media relations staff who work with local, national, and sometimes international media. In addition, students may earn various achievement awards presented by their institution, conference, or the NCAA. Finally, the implicit value of team travel and experiencing the cultures of different institutions and regions provides student athletes with opportunities to grow socially as well as intellectually and athletically.

See also: College Athletics, subentries on Academic Support Systems for Athletes, College Students as Athletes, History of Athletics in U.S. Colleges and Universities, NCAA Rules and Regulations, The National Collegiate Athletic Association, The Role and Scope of Intercollegiate Athletics in U.S. Colleges and Universities.


Bradley, Bill. 1989. The Role of Athletics in College Life: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education of the Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives, One Hundred First Congress, First Session. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Dyson, Eric. M. 1994. "Be Like Mike: Michael Jordan and the Pedagogy of Desire." In Between Borders: Pedagogy and the Politics of Cultural Studies, eds. Henry A. Giroux and Peter McLaren. New York: Routledge.

Gerdy, John R. 1994. "How Televised Sports Can Further the Goals of Higher Education." Chronical of Higher Education 12 (7):A52.

Gerdy, John R. 1997. The Successful College Athletic Program: The New Standard. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press.

Gerdy, John R. 2000. Sports in School: The Future of an Institution. New York: Teachers College Press.

Lederman, David. 1990. "Students Who Competed in College Sports Fare Better in Job Market than Those Who Didn't, Report Says." Chronicle of Higher Education 37:A4748.

Lederman, David. 1998. "Players Spend More Time on Sports than on Studies." Chronicle of Higher Education 34:A3334.

National Collegiate Athletic Association. 2000. 2001 NCAA Division I Manual. Indianapolis, IN: National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Shulman, James L., and Bowen, William G. 2001. The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Bradley James Bates


Current thought regarding academics and athletics in higher education focuses on the academic performances of student athletes. The emphasis of the research literature concerning intercollegiate athletics is on the compromised admissions and subsequent inferior academic performance of student athletes in the revenue-producing sports of football and men's basketball. Consequently, the nucleus of research literature centers on the academic integrity of higher education institutions that participate in NCAA Division IA intercollegiate athletics.

In gauging academic outcomes of student athletes, most research relies on traditional scholastic measures. Empirical research objectifies student athletes by focusing on board scores, grade point averages (GPAs), and graduation rates, and depicts student athletes participating in revenue-producing sports as weaker students in high school, poorer students in college, and graduating at lower rates than other students. University graduation rates have emerged as the prevailing assessment tool of student athletes' academic engagement and as a measure of performance outcomes.

Graduation Rates

The most comprehensive research of academic performance of student athletes is conducted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The annual Graduation Rates Report utilizes institutionally submitted information detailing student-athlete graduation rates, undergraduate enrollment data, university grade point averages, and admissions data. This report describes in quantitative terms the academic performance differences between student athletes and other students, between student athletes in revenue-producing sports and non-revenueproducing sports, between students and student athletes in Division I schools, and between student athletes and other students by ethnicity. Although the findings show few significant deviations from year to year within each institution, differences between institutions are startling. For example, in the twelve-member Southeastern Conference, six institutions graduated less than 53 percent of their student athletes in 1999. Several NCAA institutions graduated less than 20 percent of the student athletes that entered their university during the 19861987 academic years.

The percentages become more alarming when students are separated by ethnicity and sport. For example, while Division I student athletes graduate at an average rate of 58 percent rate, only 51 percent of football players and 43 percent of men's basketball players graduate. Sixty-three percent of Division I Caucasian student athletes graduate from college while Division I African-American student athletes graduate at a rate of 45 percent. Sixty percent of Division I Caucasian student athletes that participate in football, and 53 percent that participate in men's basketball, graduate, while only 43 percent of Division I African-American student athletes that participate in football, and 37 percent that participate in men's basketball, graduate from college. These data demonstrate that student athletes in revenue-producing sports (football and men's basketball), especially African-American student athletes, graduate at lower rates than other students (including other student athletes), raising serious cultural concerns and questions regarding the support systems and admissions policies for student athletes participating in revenue sports.

These data are not surprising given the criterion by which football and basketball student athletes are admitted to universities (see Table 1). Football and men's basketball student athletes have lower entering board scores and lower core high school GPAs than other student athletes. Thus, NCAA data supports the contention that student athletes participating in football and men's basketball are given preferential admissions treatment by institutions of higher learninga substantial statistical advantage that has increased over time. Once admitted, student athletes underperform academically and concentrate in certain fields of study. However, despite lower entering board scores and underperformance, student athletes, overall, fare as well as other students in terms of graduation rates. Additionally, viewing student athletes collectively portrays a universal characterization that is not applicable to all sports. Student athletes in non-revenue-producing sports elevate the academic means for student athletes in football and men's basketball. In other words, student athletes participating in non-revenue-producing sports have vastly different academic profiles than football players and men's basketball players.

The NCAA reports include the graduation rates for all students as a gauge of institutional academic integrity. Although the focus of the report is on student-athletes graduation rates, student athletes are measured against the graduation rates of their peers. The literature contains a consistent theme of discontent toward the graduation rates of student athletes, yet student athletes collectively graduate at rates consistent with their classmates. The 1999 NCAA


Graduation Rates Report shows that over a four-year period, student athletes actually graduated at a higher rate (58%) than their peers (56%). In Division IA, the most competitive level of the NCAA, student athletes graduated at a rate of 58 percent, compared to a rate of 59 percent for all students at Division IA institutions. In Division I-AAA, the least competitive level of Division I intercollegiate athletics, student athletes graduated at a 58 percent rate, compared to 50 percent of all students at those institutions, and Division I-AA student athletes graduated at a rate of 57 percent, compared to 54 percent of all students at those institutions. Collectively, then, student athletes do better than their peers in terms of graduation rates. However, the data reveal two distinct groupings of student athletes when assessing academic success: students who participate in revenue sports and those who participate in non-revenue-producing sports.

Focusing on football and men's basketball student athletes illustrates significant differences compared to other students. There is a distinct difference between the graduation rates, core high school GPAs, and board scores of student athletes who participate in revenue-producing sports and non-revenue-producing sports. Football and men's basketball student athletes not only graduate at lower rates than other students, they are poorer students than other student athletes.

Several empirical studies have examined the differences in academic performance between football and men's basketball student athletes and nonathlete students. The intent of these studies was to identify disparities in academic performance. As previously discussed, the primary source of data was collected by the NCAA from institutionally submitted student academic records. Mean scores are subsequently compared between independent groups. The scope of these studies was extensive. For example, data collected for the NCAA reports include all Division IA student athletes.

In a year-long study conducted by the President's Commission of the NCAA, student athletes were found to "spend more time on sports than on studies" (Lederman 1988, p. A33). Comparisons were made between student athletes and nonparticipating students in time-consuming extracurricular activities. This study involved forty-two institutions in Division IA and it found that "Football and basketball players spend approximately thirty hours per week in the sports when they are in seasonmore time than they spend preparing for and attending class combined. They also report missing about two classes per week" (Lederman 1988, p. A34). The result of admissions exceptions and athletic demands is that student athletes in revenue-producing sports graduate at a significantly lower rate than other students. At many universities, faculty are tolerating the continuation of academic programs "in which, for every student who graduated, nine others did not" (Weistart, p. 17).

The question investigated by Michael Maloney and Robert McCormick in 1993 was, "To what extent does intercollegiate athletic participation affect academic success?" (p. 556). Utilizing data collected on all students at a Division IA university, Maloney and McCormick discovered that the average grade for student athletes was 2.379, which was significantly lower than the average grade for the student body, which was 2.681. Using regression equations for grade estimates by semester, Maloney and McCormick found that "there is a negative season effect in the revenue sports" (p. 566). Football players received significantly lower grades during the fall season than other students. Student-athlete grades during the off-season improve significantly and are slightly better than nonathletes. However, the increase during the off-season is not sufficient "to re-coup the losses during participation" (Maloney and McCormick, p. 566).


Universities are willing to compromise admissions criteria for athletic ability. The result has been institutional acceptance of lower graduation rates of student athletes who participate in revenue-producing sports. However, student athletes collectively graduate at rates comparable to their peers. The academic concession for athletic purposes amplifies an implicit institutional value on winning athletic contests in football and men's basketball, which are the primary users of "special admits" (students admitted with profiles significantly lower than the university average) and the teams with the lowest graduation rates.

See also: College Athletics, subentries on Academic Support Systems for Athletes, Athletic Scholarships, History of Athletics in U.S. Colleges and Universities, NCAA Rules and Regulations, The National Collegiate Athletic Association, The Role and Scope of Intercollegiate Athletics in U.S. Colleges and Universities.


Adler, Patricia A., and Adler, Peter. 1991. Backboards and Blackboards: College Athletes and Role Engulfment. New York: Columbia University Press.

Adler, Peter, and Adler, Patricia A. 1985. "From Idealism to Pragmatic Detachment: The Academic Performance of College Athletes." Sociology of Education 58 (4):241250.

Cramer, Jerome. 1986. "Winning or Learning? Athletics and Academics in America." Phi Delta Kappan 67 (9):K1K8.

Gurney, Gerald S., and Stuart, Debra L. 1987. "Effects of Special Admission, Varsity Competition, and Sports on Freshman Student-Athletes' Academic Performance." Journal of College Student Personnel 28:298305.

Lang, Eric L., and Rossi, Robert J. 1991. Understanding Academic Performance: 198788 National Study of Intercollegiate Athletes. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association convention (ERIC Document Reproduction Service, No. ED 331 880).

Lederman, David. 1988. "Players Spend More Time on Sports than on Studies, an NCAA Survey of Major College Athletes Finds. Chronicle of Higher Education 34:A33A34.

Lederman, David. 1991. "College Athletes Graduate at Higher Rate than Other Students, But Men's Basketball Players Lag Far Behind, a Survey Finds. Chronicle of Higher Education 37 (28):A1, A38A44.

Maloney, Michael T., and McCormick, Robert E. 1993. "An Examination of the Role that Intercollegiate Athletic Participation Plays in Academic Achievement: Athletes' Feats in the Classroom." Journal of Human Resources 28 (3):555570.

McMillen, Tom. 1992. Out of Bounds. New York: Simon and Schuster.

National Collegiate Athletic Association. 19881999. Official NCAA Graduation Rates Report. Overland Park, KS: National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Shulman, James L., and Bowen, William G. 2001. The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Weistart, John C. 1987. "College Sports Reform: Where Are the Faculty?" Academe 73 (4):1217.

Bradley James Bates


The term intramural comes from the Latin intra (within) and murus (wall). In a collegiate setting, intramural usually refers to a formally organized program of activities, games, and sports designed to meet the needs of the entire college community. Campus intramural and recreational programs normally provide an opportunity for voluntary participation and/or competition among members of the same institution, and also for occasional competition between intramural groups at other institutions. Because participation is voluntary and open to all, intramural activities allow all students to experience the positive outcomes normally reserved for varsity athletes.

The intramural motto reads, "An activity for everyone and everyone in an activity" (Hyatt, p. 10), and the main purpose is student enjoyment. Intramural programs exist simply because students enjoy the activities and want them to continue. While there is no other necessary justification for the existence of intramural programs, there are many varied benefits, which have led to the secondary goal of providing educational experiences through physical activity. Several objectives related to this goal are:

  • Physical developmentpersonal fitness programs can help produce happier, healthier individuals.
  • Mental developmentmany sports provide stress relief and require and enhance quick decision-making, interpretation, and concentration.
  • Social developmentbeing part of a team requires and fosters teamwork, cooperation, and sportsmanship.
  • Skill developmentintramural activities provide an opportunity to refine specific physical skills, an opportunity that may not have been available previously.
  • Leisure-time developmentthese activities encourage a positive choice for filling free time, which may carry over to healthful life decisions.


There are a few early records of intramural events that eventually gave rise to formalized intramural offices and organizations, including an 1852 boat race between Harvard and Yale students, an 1857 Princeton University baseball game between freshmen and sophomores, and an 1859 baseball game between students at Williams and Amherst.

In 1913 the term intramural was first used at the University of Michigan, at which time the first formal intramural departments were formed at Michigan and Ohio State. Many large state institutions soon followed, and in 1920 the Big Ten Intercollegiate Athletic Conference began holding annual intramural director's meetings. The first book on the topic, Elmer Mitchell's Intramural Athletics, was published in 1925. Mitchell was later a main force in developing Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs for physical educators. He also initiated Research Quarterly and was the first author of the Journal of Health and Physical Education. The first building dedicated solely to intramural activities was constructed in 1928 at the University of Michigan. The creation of the federal work-study program in 1933 established jobs for students in intramural departments and allowed many institutions to further develop their intramural programs.

The year 1948 marked the beginning of the first professional organization related to college intramurals. William Wasson, from Dillard University in New Orleans, toured twenty-five black colleges, studying their intramural departments. He then produced A Comparative Study of Intramural Programs in Negro Colleges. Wasson concluded that it would be very helpful to form a national organization to serve as a reference and resource for those involved in collegiate intramural programs. In 1950 there was a meeting of eleven black-college intramural directors, who named themselves the National Intramural Association (NIA). They later invited intramural directors from other institutions to join their group and eventually changed the organization's name to the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA). In 1955 the first international conference was held, and in 1971 women were invited to join NIRSA.


Within an intramural department, each activity or team needs to be a separate program and function as a whole. Programs and activities do have relationships with each other, but they are not dependent upon each other for their existence, and no activity is more important than any other. A cooperative balance between intramural activities and varsity athletics is crucial, and it is important to recognize that both programs are meeting the needs of students, though of different populations and in different activities. The only pre-requisite for intramurals is a desire to participate, which often includes a broad range of duties, such as playing, coaching, managing, supervising, and officiating. The intramural office is typically responsible for the following:

  • Organizing separate leagues for men and women.
  • Creating opportunities for unstructured recreation (pick-up games).
  • Providing structured and unstructured opportunities for coed recreation.
  • Club teams (intercollegiate competition, but not selective the way varsity programs are).
  • Special event planning.
  • Extramurals (contests with another institution's club team or intramural team).
  • Outdoor recreation.
  • Recreational opportunities for faculty, staff, and families, including programs to integrate the entire campus.
  • Cultural, creative activities.
  • Special programs over the summer.

The intramural director is typically responsible for publicizing events, as well as coordinating activities, making policies governing participation, scheduling and supervising activities, ensuring that officials are trained, arbitrating any disputes between participants, purchasing and managing equipment, and overseeing and balancing the budget.

Typical Programs

The programs and activities offered at an institution are largely based on the size and type of the college and the diversity and needs of the college community. Intramural and recreation programs at large universities are much more standardized than those at smaller, private colleges. For the basis of comparison, examples are provided of current offerings at two very different types of institutions. Table 1 lists the intramural/recreation offerings at the University of Massachusetts, a large, public, East Coast university. Table 2 shows the intramural/recreation offerings at the California Institute of Technology, a small, private, West Coast college.

Benefits Of Intramural Programs

Participation in intramurals has been found to have a positive effect on a student's self-esteem. As a student's recreation participation increases, his or her confidence also increases. College students are constantly required to cope with stress related to their


academic life, and participating in intramurals can help balance a student's life and improve the quality of life. For some students, intramural activities can be the single common bond they feel with other students, and intramurals thus becomes the basis for developing a social network, which is crucial for persistencean important goal of most institutions. Student participants also develop a sense of accomplishment when they become more adept at physical skills.

An intramural program is perhaps the most ideal location to foster moral development education, and this focus is the responsibility of the intramural administration. The overall atmosphere of a college intramural program should be fair, just, and geared toward moral growth. Participants should be clear that the focus is participation, teamwork, sportsmanship, and a sense of belonging. Any complaints or disputes should be handled by the administration with fairness and moral considerations in mind.


A campus intramural and recreation program has a unique opportunity to bring together all of the different members of the community, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and families, for the pursuit of a common goal. The recreation center is often open up to eighteen hours per day and attracts a more diverse population than other facilities on campus. While students tend to be measured by their grade point average and the type of degree they earn, they are far more likely to value and remember the life skills and relationships they develop in college. An intramural office that values the education and development of the whole person has endless opportunities to meet the needs of the entire college community.

See also: College Athletics, subentry on History of Athletics in U.S. Colleges and Universities; Residential Colleges.


Clarke, James S. 1978. Challenge and Change: A History of the Development of the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association 19501976. New York: Leisure Press.

Collins, John R.; Graham, Aprill P.; King, Teresa L.; and Valerius, Laura. 2001. "The Relationship Between College Students' Self-Esteem and the Frequency and Importance of Their Participation in Recreational Activities." National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association Journal 25:3847.

Dalgarn, Melinda K. 2001. "The Role of the Campus Recreation Center in Creating a Community." National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association Journal 25:6672.

Hyatt, Ronald W. 1977. Intramural Sports: Organization and Administration. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

Kleindienst, Viola, and Weston, Arthur. 1964. Intramural and Recreation Programs for Schools and Colleges. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Mueller, Pat. 1971. Intramurals: Programming and Administration. New York: Ronald Press.

Rokosz, Francis M. 1975. Structured Intramurals. Philadelphia, Saunders.

Theodore, Philip A. 1999. "Promoting Moral Growth Through Campus Recreation." National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association Journal 23:3942.

Rachel M. Madsen


The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a membership organization of colleges and universities whose fundamental charge is to "maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the educational program and the athlete as an integral part of the student body" (NCAA 2002). This governing body of intercollegiate athletics was initially constituted as the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS) in 1906, following a call from President Theodore Roosevelt to eliminate the high numbers of deaths and injuries common to college football at that time. The first constitution of the IAAUS (which became the NCAA in 1910) was ratified by thirty-five colleges and universities in 1906. In 2002 NCAA membership included 1,036 colleges and universities and a number of other affiliates. Approximately 360,000 students participate in intercollegiate athletics at these member institutions each year.

Organization of the NCAA

Since 1973 NCAA colleges and universities have been organized into three divisions, each having separate championship events, legislative autonomy, and a distinctive governance structure. Division I (324 institutions in 2002) has the most stringent requirements for membership. These requirements involve minimum numbers of sports offered for men and women, minimum numbers of participants and events for each sport, scheduling criteria, and minimum and maximum financial aid awards for student athletes. Institutions with men's football teams are further subdivided within Division I into Division I-A and I-AA, based upon team competitiveness and attendance figures.

NCAA Division II (290 institutions in 2002) typically includes those schools with fewer financial resources devoted to athletics. Membership criteria for Division II are generally less strict than for Division I, especially in terms of minimum number of sports offered and minimum numbers of financial awards for student athletes. Division III members (422 institutions in 2002) do not offer any athletically related financial aid, but emphasize participation in intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of student life on campus.

Across divisions, the NCAA governance structure includes member institution presidents and chancellors, faculty, coaches, athletic department personnel, athletic conference personnel, and student athletes who work in conjunction with a national staff of more than 300 (based in Indianapolis, Indiana) to carry out the mission and functions of each division and of the NCAA as a whole. Many NCAA rules and policies are set by one or more of 120 NCAA committees that include approximately 1,000 representatives from member institutions. The NCAA Executive Committee, consisting of a small number of college presidents and chancellors from each of the three divisions, is the overarching NCAA governance body. Its responsibilities include dealing with key association-wide issues (including all legal issues) and strategic plans, ensuring that each division is meeting its mission and the general mission of the NCAA, and overseeing the association's budget.

Each of the three divisions governs via its own committee structure, with a board of presidents and chancellors from institutions within that division serving as the highest-ranking committee and reporting directly to the NCAA Executive Committee. This board is called the Presidents Council in Divisions II and III and the Board of Directors in Division I. Many policy issues are first tackled within each division by a Management Council that reports directly to the division's board of presidents and includes athletics administrators, faculty, and student-athlete representatives. These governing bodies oversee a number of committees that each deal with a division-specific issue, such as championship events, academic standards, budget, legislation, membership criteria, student-athlete voice, and rules infractions. Additionally, there are a number of association-wide committees that focus on topics relevant to all member institutions, including competitive safeguards and injury surveillance, sport rules, opportunities for minority students and athletics personnel, sportsmanship and ethical conduct, research, and postgraduate scholarships.

Although the committee structures are similar across the three NCAA divisions, the methods for creating legislative policy have evolved differently within each division. In Divisions II and III, legislation is considered at each annual NCAA convention using a one vote per school process. Division I eliminated such a system in 1997, with all legislative policy subsequently decided upon by the institution presidents and chancellors constituting the eighteen-member Division I Board of Directors. This form of governance allows Division I to consider new legislation twice each year, as opposed to the once-per-year process used in Divisions II and III. NCAA staff members, led by the NCAA president, maintain the association's governance structure and carry out the policies set forth within each division.

Role and Function of the NCAA

The original 1906 constitution of the NCAA (IAAUS at that time) reflected a desire of the first delegates (primarily college professors) to regulate college athletics and ensure that athletic contests reflect the "dignity and high purpose of education" (Falla, p.21). During the early years of the NCAA, this was carried out by assuming a role as the chief rulesmaking body for many sports, promoting ethical sporting behavior, suggesting that athletic departments be recognized as units of instruction within each university, and debating issues such as amateurism and eligibility for competition. Many of these functions and issues are still foci for the NCAA. However, the organization's role has expanded substantially over the years to include administration of national championships, education and outreach initiatives, marketing, licensing and promotion, communications and public affairs, membership/legislative services, and rules enforcement.

Although the first NCAA-sponsored championship competition (the 1921 National Collegiate Track and Field Championship) did not occur until fifteen years after the organization's conception, administration of national championship competitions certainly constitutes the most visible modern NCAA function. As of 2002 more than eighty national championships for men and women were being administered each year across twenty-two sports. These championship events include an estimated 44,000 participants each year.

As the national popularity of many of these competitions has grown, NCAA championship contests have become the focus of substantial media interest and merchandising efforts. By far, the most popular of these championships has been the Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. The television broadcast rights for this tournament were sold to CBS in 1999 for an average of $545 million per year over eleven years. Much of the money made on NCAA championship events (and their broadcast rights) is returned directly to member institutions to support athletic programs, with the remainder used to run the championship events and support other association-wide initiatives. The NCAA national staff includes a marketing, licensing, and promotions division that deals specifically with the promotion of the NCAA brand and NCAA championships.

Early in the NCAA's history, it was expected that member institutions would police themselves on adherence to constitutional principlesa policy known as the home-rule philosophy. In time, the need to provide some form of national oversight in the face of the growth of the business side of college sports forced a shift in NCAA ideals. The 1946 "Sanity Code" was a first attempt at establishing the NCAA as a body to deal with explication of rules to member schools and enforcement of those rules. Generally, the primary areas for oversight since that time have included institutional control and responsibility, the amateur status of student athletes, academic standards, financial aid, and recruiting of student athletes. As the numbers of institutions in NCAA Divisions I, II, and III have grown and the governance structure and specific rules of each division have become more complex, the need to provide assistance to member schools in understanding and complying with national legislation has become a priority.

Membership Services

The Membership Services division of the NCAA national office has primary responsibility for assisting member colleges and universities in understanding and complying with NCAA and division-specific legislation. One function of Membership Services is to provide institutions and the general public with ready access to staff knowledgeable in NCAA rules and their interpretations. Numerous seminars and other educational initiatives are conducted each year to keep member institutions and other organizations (e.g., high schools) aware of rules and compliance issues. Membership Services (often in conjunction with NCAA counsel and federal relations liaisons) also assists NCAA governance bodies in evaluating current legislation and assessing ramifications of potential legislative changes.

The staff from this division also administers the NCAA's athletics certification and self-study program. This initiative requires that member schools maintain NCAA accreditation based on adherence to association principles and institutional control over athletic programs. In Division I, the certification program requires each institution to undergo a peer review of their athletic program at specified intervals.

Membership Services also coordinates the certification of individual student athletes as academically eligible for competition, based initially upon academic performance in high school and later on academic progress toward a degree at their college or university. Independent national assessment of whether athletes competing in NCAA-sponsored events are achieving reasonable academic performances has been a major association-wide initiative since the early 1980s.


In 1952, subsequent to the "Sanity Code," a rules enforcement mechanism was put in place that remains to this day. Member institutions, coaches, or athletes in violation of NCAA legislation or principles must face NCAA committees and staff charged with investigating and punishing transgressions. At the institution level, the NCAA reviews approximately fifteen to twenty major infractions cases and 1,500 secondary (much less serious and often self-reported) violations each year. Secondary violations often result in minor penalties that may be determined by the offending institution itself. Major infractions may lead to substantial penalties for a college or university, including recruiting limitations, loss of athletic scholarships, banishment of teams from competition in championship events, or even disbandment of a team and loss of some NCAA membership privileges. Violations involving individual prospective or enrolled student athletes are handled through similar mechanisms.

Education Services

Often lost amidst the substantial media attention afforded to the championship events, the big money aspect of college sports, and the rules violations is the substantial amount of education, outreach, and development initiatives undertaken by the NCAA through its Education Services division. This group is most directly charged with maintaining and enhancing the overall welfare of student athletes at NCAA member institutions. The division includes a sports sciences program that closely monitors trends in competition and practice injuries, informs rules committees of relevant injury data, administers drug education and drug testing programs, and promotes various wellness initiatives at the national level and through grants to member institutions.

Education Services also maintains the NCAA research staff whose mission is to collect, interpret, and disseminate data of interest to NCAA policy-makers and member institutions. For example, the research staff collects data used by the NCAA to evaluate such diverse topics as the financial health of athletic programs, effects of academic reform legislation on member institution graduation rates for student athletes, and trends in minority hiring in athletic departments.

In conjunction with many of its championship events, NCAA Education Services staff organizes large-scale youth clinics that include sport instruction and life-skills discussions. The NCAA also is involved with the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP), which provides thousands of disadvantaged youths with education and enrichment activities each summer. Student athletes at member institutions are given opportunities to participate in NCAA life-skills programming and an annual NCAA-sponsored leadership conference. Other outreach activities involve promotion of athletic administration opportunities for women and members of racial/ethnic minority groups, and the administration of numerous scholarship programs for student athletes needing funding to complete an undergraduate degree or pursue graduate training.

As in its infancy, the NCAA is still involved in establishing competition rules for each sport, and in collecting and maintaining collegiate sports records and other historical data. Many of the issues that the NCAA deals with have been around since the advent of college athletics (e.g., recruiting violations, academic performance of athletes, competitive equity). However, there are also many issues that have come to the fore more recently, such as gender equity, the financial and commercial milieu of college athletics, and diversity issues. The one certainty is that the NCAA, in conjunction with its member institutions, will continue to evolve in scope and responsibility in response to the continued growth in popularity of intercollegiate athletics in the United States.

See also: College Athletics, subentries on Athletic Scholarships, College Students as Athletes, History of Athletics in U.S. Colleges and Universities, The Role and Scope of Inter-collegiate Athletics in U.S. Colleges and Universities.


Falla, Jack. 1981. NCAA: The Voice of College SportsA Diamond Anniversary History, 19061981. Mission, KS: National Collegiate Athletic Association Press.

internet resources

Brown, Gary T. 1999. "NCAA Answers Call to Re-form: The 'Sanity Code' Leads Association Down Path to Enforcement Program." NCAA News.<>

Hawes, Kay. 1999. "Championships Program Missing at NCAA's Birth." NCAA News. <>

Hawes, Kay. 1999. "'Its Object Shall Be Regulation and Supervision,' NCAA Born from Need to Bridge Football and Higher Education." NCAA News. <>

National Collegiate Athletic Association. 1999. "NCAA, CBS Reach Agreement on $6 Billion, 11-Year Contract." NCAA News. <>

National Collegiate Athletic Association. 2002. "About the NCAA." <>

Thomas Paskus


The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) began with a meeting called by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in October 1905. In attendance were the presidents and football coaches of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton Universities. Roosevelt sought, among other things, effective regulation of college football, which in 1905 had seen eighteen deaths on the gridirons of the relatively few institutions fielding teams to play the still new and already popular sport. The meeting resulted in rules changes in football and a meeting of a group of college presidents that would become the thirty-eight-member NCAA in 1906. By 2002 the voluntary association of more than 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities governed intercollegiate athletics competition in more than fifty sports for both men and women.

The NCAA rules govern specific games, the conditions for institutional participation in the NCAA and its sanctioned leagues and championships, the recruitment and participation of individual student athletes, and the consequences for breaching NCAA rules. The NCAA Manual, which is updated for each of the three divisions annually (and four times per year online), encompasses the rules for which member institutions and individuals are accountable. By 2002 the manual had expanded to more than 500 pages as new rules continue to be legislated and old ones revised or reinterpreted.

As of February 2002 the NCAA had thirty institutions on probation for major rules infractions (those providing an extensive recruiting or competitive advantage, reflecting a general disregard for the governing rules, or for recurring violations). In 2000, when twelve institutions were sanctioned for major infractions, the NCAA processed to completion a total of 2,024 cases involving secondary infractions, an infraction defined as "isolated or inadvertent in nature, provides or is intended to provide only a minimal recruiting, competitive or other advantage, and does not include any significant recruiting inducement or extra benefit" (p.311).

The number and complexity of NCAA rules, and the possible consequences associated with their violation, have led most Division I institutions to employ at least one full-time professional staff member and to establish an institution-wide infrastructure solely devoted to assuring up-to-date knowledge and compliance with NCAA rules. Further, the aspiring student athlete must attend to the rules as early as the ninth grade to be sure to achieve the necessary high school course work required to meet NCAA eligibility requirements.

Source, Structure, and Scope of NCAA Rules

The regulations for the governance of NCAA-sponsored intercollegiate athletics are encompassed in the NCAA Manual within thirty-three articles, which are organized in three sections: (1) the "Constitution," which covers the principles for the conduct of intercollegiate athletics that provide the framework within which all subsequent rules must fit; (2) "Operating Bylaws," which consist of principles and specific rules promoting the principles defined in the constitution; and (3) "Administrative Bylaws," which define policies and procedures to implement legislative actions of the association, NCAA championships, association business, the enforcement program, and the athletics certification program. Most rules and rule changes originate with recommendations from a number of internal committees, including the committee on infractions and the management councila representative group of institutional and league athletics and faculty representatives of the specific division for revisions to the bylaws. However, depending on the nature of the proposed rule or revision, authority for rules and amendments may be delegated to the committee or may require approval beyond the management council.

The constitution provides a framework and defines limits for all subsequent regulations and future legislation. At its base is a two-part fundamental policy addressing the principle of amateurism, which is meant to assure that athletics is an integral part of the educational program, and the athlete is an integral part of the student body, thus establishing a "clear line of demarcation between intercollegiate athletics and professional sports" (NCAA, p. 1). The second part of the policy addresses the individual and collective responsibilities of member institutions to apply and enforce legislation to assure competitive equity, including "basic athletics issues such as admissions, financial aid, eligibility and recruiting" (NCAA, p. 1). Beyond the fundamental policy and purpose of the organization, the constitution includes five additional articles addressing the conduct of intercollegiate athletics, NCAA membership, organizational structure, legislative authority and process, and institutional control of intercollegiate athletics. The constitution designates the chief executive officer of the institution (rather than the athletic director) as ultimately responsible "for the conduct of the intercollegiate athletics program and the actions of any board in control of that program" (NCAA, p. 49). This responsibility is reinforced in the requirement that budgetary control falls to the institution within the realm of its normal budgetary procedures. The Constitution also spells out procedures for self-study and analysis to occur as part of a regular athletic certification process. Perhaps most important, this section of the constitution spells out the institution's responsibility for the acts of its staff members and any other individuals or agencies promoting the interests of the institution's intercollegiate athletics program.

The second article of the constitution contains principles for conduct of intercollegiate athletics, which anchor rules affecting prospective and current student athletes and institutions. The principle of student-athlete welfare, for example, requires athletic programs to protect and enhance the physical and educational welfare of student athletes. It requires an environment for the student athlete that: (1) is well integrated with the overall educational experience,(2) values cultural diversity and gender equity, (3) is healthy and safe, (4) fosters a positive relationship between the student athlete and coach, (5) exhibits fair, open, and honest relationships on the part of coaches and administrators towards student athletes, and (6) involves student athletes in matters affecting their lives. Other principles for the conduct of inter-collegiate athletics include gender equity, sportsmanship and ethical conduct, sound academic standards, nondiscrimination, diversity within governance, rules compliance, amateurism, competitive equity, recruiting, eligibility, financial aid, playing and practice seasons, postseason competition and contests sponsored by noncollegiate organizations, and the economy of athletic program operations. Each principle, briefly defined in the constitution, provides the philosophical basis for extensive and often complex subsequent rules in the operating and administrative bylaws.

The operating bylaws address ethical conduct (including gambling and the use of banned substances), conduct and employment of athletics personnel, amateurism, recruiting of student athletes, academic and general eligibility requirements, financial aid, conditions affecting awards, benefits and expenses for enrolled student athletes, the conditions and limitations of playing and practice seasons, championships and postseason football, enforcement, division membership, committees, and certification for institutional athletic programs. The administrative bylaws address rules in the governance of athletic programs, executive regulations, enforcement policies and procedures, and the policies and procedures governing the NCAA athletics certification program.

NCAA Eligibility Requirements

Imagine Sally Jones, a ninth grader who loves basketball. She knows that she wants to play college basketball, and therefore will try to do whatever is required to meet the admission requirements of her state university. In addition, perhaps unknown to Sally and her parents, she must also satisfy NCAA requirements and procedures in order to be eligible to compete in her first year in college.

The NCAA constitutional principle regarding eligibility specifies that "eligibility requirements shall be designed to assure proper emphasis on educational objectives, to promote competitive equity among institutions and to prevent exploitation of student-athletes" (NCAA, p. 5). It is designed to assure that when Sally gets to college she will be treated as a student first, and not simply as a commodity.

The subsequent bylaw related to eligibility, however, consists of thirty-seven pages in the Division IManual detailing the conditions a student athlete must meet in order to be eligible to compete in athletics competition at a given institution. The rules related to initial eligibility are sufficiently complex that Sally and all other applicants must use an initialeligibility clearinghouse contracted by the NCAA (in 2002 the contract was held by the American College Testing Service) to validate the information on which the initial eligibility determination is based. First, in order to qualify for eligibility, Sally will need to meet minimum grade point average (GPA) requirements in a set of thirteen designated core academic courses taken in high school. An index based on varying combinations of GPA and test scores on either the SAT or the ACT will determine the minimum that must be satisfied in each area. For example, if the core GPA is 2.0 (the lowest permissible for a qualifier), then the combined verbal/math score on the SAT would need to be at least 1010. If Sally's GPA in the academic core courses is 2.5 or higher, she will be allowed an SAT score as low as 820 to qualify for athletics financial aid, practice, and competition. If she is unable to meet these criteria, she might be able to be a partial qualifier, a student who meets an index involving GPAs starting at 2.525 and going to 2.750 and above to balance SAT scores as low as 720. Partial qualifiers and nonqualifiers may attend the institution if accepted through normal channels, but they may not participate in the first year in intercollegiate athletics practice or competition (including club sports).

NCAA rules will dictate the maximum number of official campus visits Sally may make; when, how often, and under what conditions she may be contacted by coaching staff; conditions for campus visits, including where she may eat and under what conditions costs will be covered for her parents if they accompany her. If admitted, there will be conditions on summer school attendance and summer sport participation, when she must declare a major, the number of courses she must take to remain eligible, and permissible sources of financial support as she pursues her degree. Once on campus, her coaches will be responsible for certain rules, including when, how often, and for how long the team practices, and the number of contests in which she will participate. Violations of the rules could adversely affect both individuals and the institution.


Institutions typically self-report to the NCAA in the event they have reason to believe a violation of an NCAA rule has occurred. Information may also come through other channels such as opposing coaches or members of the public. In the case of a secondary violation, the institution prepares a report on the situation, including corrective or disciplinary actions taken, if any. The NCAA Secondary Violation Penalty Schedule provides guidance for penalties for inadvertent secondary violations. For example, if basketball, football, or women's volleyball coaching staff members attended an opponent's contest, violating the regulation generally prohibiting in-person scouting of an opponent in these sports, the employing institution should issue a letter of reprimand to the involved coaching staff members. Many recruiting violations would necessitate the institution to issue a letter of admonishment to involved staff members, with notice that repeat violations will be forwarded to the NCAA for evaluation and imposition of appropriate recruiting restrictions on the institution. Examples of such violations include sending video materials to a prospect, placing institutional advertising in a high school game program or recruiting publication, failure to notify a prospect in writing of the five-visit limitation prior to a visit, providing a campus visit prior to receiving the prospect's test scores and/or transcript, allowing a media representative to be present during a recruiting contact by a coach, publicizing a prospect's campus visit, and putting a prospect's name on the scoreboard.

Major infractions involve an in-depth investigation process in cooperation with the institution. Major infractions may warrant penalties such as forfeiture of games involving ineligible players, probation, limiting television coverage, termination of responsible staff, dissociation of representatives of athletic interests, reduction of allowable grants-inaid, financial penalties, and, in the worst case, effectively suspending an athletic program for a given period of time. Some examples of major infractions include providing extra benefits to student athletes or recruits, falsification of recruiting records, unethical conduct (including academic fraud), impermissible recruiting inducements, lack of institutional control and failure to monitor its athletic programs, provision of false and misleading information, hiring irregularities, fraudulent entrance examinations, impermissible observation of preseason activities, and impermissible tryouts.


The NCAA compliance effort is a well-intended attempt to respond to concerns related to ethics, commercialism, academic integrity, amateurism, exploitation of student athletes, racial equity and gender equity, disability accommodation, and other issues. An approach to ethical concerns based in legislated rules has perhaps created a structure so complex that it loses sight of the initial objective, and has, in turn, generated new concerns. The structure of NCAA rules continues to be challenged through the NCAA. The rules have also been challenged in the courts, including, for example, cases related to alleged racial discrimination in the use of test scores in initial eligibility determination, disability discrimination in disallowing test scores taken with accommodation for students with disabilities, anti-trust questions for denying access to prospective student-athletes, and for limiting salaries for restricted earnings coaches. Such coaches, prior to the court's prohibition as a result of this case, were limited by NCAA rules to a specific salary cap usually equivalent to a part-time salary even though they were employees of the hiring college or university. Others raise concerns about an athletic association determining academic policy at both the high school and college level. Time, however, will tell whether NCAA and member efforts to revise the rules structure will allow benefits from the order and ethical foundation provided by NCAA rules, while also simplifying the rules to reduce the volume of unintended violations. As the NCAA seeks to liberalize rules related to amateurism, it is useful to consider historian John Thelin's observation that "the initial impulse in each era was to deplore the illegal and unethical activities in college sports, then to proceed to make them legal. If there is an epitaph for the demise of educationally sound athletic programs on the American campus, it will read: 'the rules were unenforceable"' (Thelin, p. 222).

See also: College Athletics, subentry on National Collegiate Athletic Association; Title IX, subentry on Intercollegiate Athletics.


Duderstadt, James J. 2000. Intercollegiate Athletics and the American University: A University President's Perspective. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Festle, Mary Jo. 1996. Playing Nice: Politics and Apologies in Women's Sports. New York: Columbia University Press.

Fleisher, Arthur A., III; Goff, Brian L.; and Tollison, Robert D. 1992. The National Collegiate Athletic Association: A Study in Cartel Behavior. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Gerdy, John R. 1997. The Successful College Athletic Program: The New Standard. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press.

Grimes, Paul W., and Chressanthis, George A. 1994. "Alumni Contributions to Academics: The Role of Intercollegiate Sports and NCAA Sanctions." The American Journal of Economics and Sociology 53 (1):27.

Justus, Janet, and Brake, Deborah. 1995. "Title IX." Journal of College and University Law 22 (1): 4862.

Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. 2001. Report of the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics (issued annually since 1991). Charlotte, NC: The Knight Foundation.

Lapchick, Richard E., and Slaughter, John B., eds. 1994. The Rules of the Game: Ethics in College Sport. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press.

Shulman, James L., and Bowen, William G. 2001. The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Smith, Rodney K. 2000. "A Brief History of the NCAA's Role in Regulating Intercollegiate Athletics." Marquette Law Journal 11 (1):9.

Sperber, Murray. 1998. Onward to Victory: The Crises that Shaped College Sports. New York: Henry Holt.

Thelin, John R. 1996. Games Colleges Play: Scandal and Reform in Intercollegiate Athletics. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Zimbalist, Andrew. 1999. Unpaid Professionals: Commercialism and Conflict in Big-Time College Sports. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

internet resources

National Collegiate Athletic Association.2001. 2001-2002 NCAA Manual (for Divisions I, II, and II). Indianapolis, IN: National Collegiate Athletic Association. <>

Suzanne E. Estler

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College Athletics


COLLEGE ATHLETICS. Colonial American colleges adhered to a strict policy of in loco parentis, which encouraged administrators and professors, acting in the place of parents, to take charge of the moral as well as the academic growth of students. This authoritarian approach to education severely constrained campus life, and students gradually developed extracurricular activities, including literary societies, fraternities, and sports, to channel their energies.

The first campus athletic events grew out of hazing rituals pitting sophomores against freshmen in often violent wrestling or football contests (which at first looked more like soccer than modern American football), but when students started to identify more with their school than their class, they initiated competition with rival colleges. The first intercollegiate sporting event took place in 1852, when a railroad official inspired by the English Cambridge-Oxford rivalry sponsored a crew race between Harvard and Yale, two schools that dominated college athletics for the rest of the nineteenth century.

The race established a pattern of commercialism that many modern observers mistakenly consider a recent trend in college sports. Though schools claimed (and still claim) to follow the ideals of amateurism, they very quickly turned to professionalism in practice. Many of the first intercollegiate sporting events were organized by promoters who paid athletes with perks and prizes. In addition, as early as the 1860s, the desire to win led a number of college teams to hire professional coaches and aggressively recruit student athletes without regard for their academic qualifications.

Throughout the nineteenth century, four sportscrew, baseball, football, and track and fielddominated college athletics. The most popular sporting events of the period were the 1870s regattas and the New York Thanksgiving Day football games of the 1890s, each of which drew between thirty and forty thousand spectators. Professional baseball and Olympic track and field eventually diminished the popularity of their college predecessors. But football and basketball did not achieve professional popularity until the 1940s, and they became (and remain) the two big-time college sports. The NCAA basketball tournament, known as March Madness, and the college football bowl games epitomize modern college athletics.


College sports were for several decades controlled by students, not administrators. Occasionally, the faculty or the president would assert their powerfor example, by refusing permission for weekday away gamesbut students organized practices, drew up schedules, and raised money for equipment and travel. Soon, however, college athletics became centralized and institutionalized. Students themselves took the first step in limiting their autonomy by hiring professional coaches to do a job once filled by student captains. They were willing to submit to outside authority if it meant victory. At Yale, alumnus Walter Camp ran every aspect of the football program from the 1880s to 1911, and his teams won eleven national championships.

Though students formed the first governing bodies, such as the Rowing Association of American Colleges and the American College Baseball Association, administrators got involved in athletic programming when they started to suspect that sports interfered with their academic and moral interests. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton formed faculty athletic committees in the early 1880s, and most schools quickly followed suit. Simultaneously, alumni associations who believed sports enhanced the reputation of their alma maters pushed for greater rationalization of athletics. In the 1890s, the Dartmouth College Board of Trustees took over a struggling athletic program, and with better funding and organization it thrived.

Finally, the 1880s and 1890s also saw several movements for interinstitutional control of athletics, led by administrators worried that athletic abuses were tarnishing the image of higher education. In 1895 leading Midwestern schools organized the first athletic conference, the powerful Big Ten. Three years later, leading eastern colleges met unsuccessfully to straighten out the mess of eligibility rules, which had grown so lax that many teams fielded players with no affiliation to the sponsoring college. The most important decision on intercollegiate organization came in 1905, in the aftermath of a heated controversy about brutality in football. Many schools considered banning the sport, especially after a Union College player died from injuries sustained in a pile-up, but finally they decided to create what became the National Collegiate Athletic Association. In the early 2000s, the NCAA, a colossal and well-funded bureaucracy of athletic directors, had more than 1,000 member institutions.

Women and Title IX

Though women played college sports for much of the twentieth century, the generally held conviction that competition was unfeminine kept their contests mostly informal until the 1960s and 1970s. When a number of

previously all-male schools decided to accept women, they also began to field women's teams. More importantly, however, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 outlawed sex discrimination in higher education, which in practice meant that schools had to provide equal facilities and coaching staffs for women athletes and, more controversially, that they had to strive for a ratio of female to male athletes roughly equal to the ratio of women to men in the student body as a whole. Many critics of Title IX argued that in practice it require dcuts in athletic programs for men (departments could not afford to expand, so they contracted), but after it went into effect, women's sports exploded in popularity.

The Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), formed in 1971, was the first successful governing body for women's college sports. It tended to approach athletics with a less competitive attitude than the NCAA. For instance, the AIAW invited all teams, not just winners, to participate in national championships. In 1980, however, the NCAA decided to offer its own women's championships, and the AIAW shut down two years later. Under the leadership of the NCAA, women's college sports steadily if slowly gained main stream acceptance, but some women argue that the NCAA squeezed the unique qualities out of women's athletics, turning it into the men's version writ small.


Since the 1980s, critics have been claiming that college athletics in its present form is inconsistent with the values of higher education. They argue that athletic programs (which, contrary to popular opinion, almost always run at a deficit) siphon off millions of dollars that should go to a wider range of student activities, that gambling and lucrative licensing and television contracts taint the educational missions of nonprofit and public institutions, and that student athletes often fail to meet academic standards and are unable to get a proper education because their sports require all their time and effort. On the other side, defenders respond that sports teaches students skills they cannot learn in a classroom and that it helps create a sense of community pride on campus.

These problems are not new. In 1939 the president of the University of Chicago abolished its very successful football program on the grounds that the point of education was to make the curriculum "rational and intelligible," not to provide extracurricular escapes from it. Another serious controversy erupted in 1951, when seven leading college basketball teams, including the City College of New York national champions, were implicated in a point-shaving scandal (gamblers paid them not to cover the spread).

Concerns about the corrupting influence of money in college sports prompted the NCAA to regularize athletic scholarships in 1956, but the eight schools that had formed the Ivy League in 1954 refused to accept the new rules. In 1985 the NCAA forced the Southern Methodist University football team to disband for a year (the so called death penalty) because boosters had paid players $60,000. The next year, the NCAA instituted Proposition 48, later Proposition 16, which established minimum academic requirements for incoming student athletes.

Despite the rule changes and strict sanctions, many observers saw college athletics getting worse, not better. The influential book The Game of Life, published in 2001, analyzed a huge amount of data to argue that athletes had a distinct admissions advantage over other applicants, did worse than nonathletes in the classroom, and tended to create their own athlete culture that had little to do with the rest of campus life. In addition, almost all schools lost money on sports, and athletic success did not translate into alumni giving. In short, the book made the case that college sports were becoming increasingly segregated from both the day-to-day lives of most students and psychic identity of colleges. Even so, reformers were unlikely to remake college sports in the near future. Regardless of possible incommensurability of big-time athletics and higher education, intercollegiate sports are an extremely lucrative and popular part of the sports industry in general.


Rosen, Charles. Scandals of '51: How the Gamblers Almost Killed College Basketball. New York: Hold, Rinehart, and Winston, 1978.

Shulman, James L., and William G. Bowen. The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Smith, Ronald A. Sports and Freedom: The Rise of Big-Time College Athletics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Sperber, Murray. College Sports Inc.: The Athletic Department vs. the University. New York: Holt, 1990.

Watterson, John Sayle. College Football: History, Spectacle, Controversy. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Welch, Paula. Silver Era, Golden Moments: A Celebration of Ivy League Women's Athletics. Lanham, Md.: Madison, 1999.

Jeremy Derfner

See also National Collegiate Athletic Association .

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College Sports

College Sports


Rise of College Sport . In the last half of the nineteenth century, sports became an essential element of college life. Intercollegiate sport emerged before the Civil War, with rowing, or crew, being the first college sport. In the 1830s students at prestigous eastern colleges formed informal rowing clubs, and by 1846

Harvard and Yale clubs began to compete against noncollegiate organizations. In the ensuing decades rowing was joined by baseball, cricket, and football on college campuses. The first intercollegiate football game played to rugby rules was between McGill and Harvard on 15 May 1874, and ended in a scoreless tie. In the 1870s football grew into the leading college sport in the United States, and in 1876 Princeton, Rutgers, Columbia, Harvard, and Yale met in Springfield, Massachusetts, to form the American Intercollegiate Football Association. At that meeting the schools agreed on the Rugby Union rules for college football.

Society and College Football. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, college football developed from a game played by the student to one played for the spectator. Changes within the university promoted the growth of football. Beginning in the 1870s universities sought to increase their enrollments, and college presidents quickly came to recognize that a winning football team brought the recognition needed to stimulate enrollments. College authorities also realized that successful football teams contributed more to developing alumni loyality than fond memories of chapels, classrooms, professors, and ivy-covered buildings. By the close of the century alumni wanted a stake in the success of their college teams, and they participated in the recruitment of players, raising money for the team, and assisting in the administration of college athletics. Urban social climbers associated themselves with successful college football teams regardless of whether they were graduates of that institution or not. More important, the men who played college football, especially in northeastern colleges, were the sons of the elite, and their participation on a winning team, coupled with a degree from an exclusive college, could assure their ascendancy.

From Rugby to Football. In 1876 the American Intercollegiate Football Association agreed to play football according to the Rugby Union rules. Rugby rules, unlike the soccer rules under which the 1869 Rutgers-Princeton games were played, permitted a more physical game in which a player could pick up the ball and run with it for a touchdown. Moreover, players could dropkick the ball to score as well. The transition from English rugby to American football occurred in the late 1870s under the direction of Walter Camp, who played halfback for Yale from 1876 to 1882. One of his first innovations was to reduce the number of players on the field for each team from fifteen to eleven. In 1880 Camp proposed replacing the rugby scrum with the scrimmage. Whereas the scrum led to constant turnover of the ball from team to team, the scrimmage encouraged the undisputed possession of the ball by one team. The scrimmage brought order to the game and encouraged the development of rational strategy and team formations. The scrimmage, however, made it possible for a team to control the ball for the entire game, so in 1882 Camp proposed the downs system, in which the team was given three downs to advance the ball five yards (now four downs to move the ball ten yards) or relinquish possession of the ball. Under the downs system, lines marking five-yard increments were chalked across the playing field, thus producing the gridiron effect upon the field. Camp, who permitted tackling below the waist, also instituted the point system for touchdowns (6), field

goals (3), and safeties (2). In 1889 he promoted football by naming his first All-American team.

Dominance of the East. During the late nineteenth century, prestigous eastern universities dominated college football. Yale, coached by Camp, won the first national championship in 1883. In all Yale won eight national titles from 1883 to 1899. During the same period Princeton garnered four, Harvard three, and Pennsylvania two national titles. Players from these schools became the coaches who would spread football throughout the nation. Amos Alonzo Stagg, a Yale player and member of Camps first -American team in 1889, developed Chicago into one of early college football powers of the Midwest. One of the first athletic conferences established around football teams was the Western Conference, which would become known as the Big Ten. In 1896 Wisconsin won the first Western Conference championship and in 1897 retained that title. In 1898 Michigan won the Western Conference title, as did Chicago in 1899.


Ivan N. Kaye, Good Clean Violence: A History of College Football (Philadelphia & New York: Lippincott, 1973);

Guy Maxton Lewis, The American Intercollegiate Football Spectacle, 1869-1917, dissertation, University of Maryland, 1965;

Ronald A. Smith, Sports and Freedom: The Rise of Big-Time College Athletics (New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988).

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