President Obama has found time in his busy schedule of not-really-terrorist terrorists and global warming to “save” college sports.
Obama will meet this week with representatives of college athletic programs and the NCAA, USA Today reported Sunday night.
Just what direction the meeting will take remains unclear, as an agenda has not yet been finalized, but it is expected to address a wide range of issues confronting college sports including academic issues, player compensation and sexual assault.
The White House meeting is expected to precede the creation of a “Coalition to Save College Sports” that will be spearheaded by the commissioners of the ten conferences at the top level of college football, said USA Today. That coalition could be paired up with a presidential commission to investigate the current state of college athletics.
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College sports are as popular as ever, but with rising popularity and profits has come increased concern from Congress and the executive branch about how athletics and college education intersect.
Several figures, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, have expressed concern that sports are undermining academics at many schools. Low graduation rates remain a problem for many major programs, and recent years have seen multiple academic scandals. At the University of North Carolina, for instance, it was recently revealed that hundreds of athletes were funneled into courses in the African-American studies department which were almost impossible to fail and helped maintain academic eligibility.
Duncan, who himself played basketball at Harvard, has suggested that teams which fail to meet certain academic thresholds could be barred from the postseason.
Also menacing the status quo are antitrust lawsuits from unpaid players who seek to take a cut of the profits they earn their schools. At Northwestern University, players on the football team have sought to form a union, arguing they are employees of the college and deserve the right to collective bargaining.
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