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Harrison Plays Key Role in New Report on Oversight of Intercollegiate Athletics
University President Walter Harrison played a key role in a new report, released Tuesday, that calls for increased oversight of intercollegiate athletics by governing boards.
The report, “Trust, Accountability, and Integrity: Board Responsibilities for Intercollegiate Athletics,” was issued by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB). The findings of the report, an initiative of the AGB Intercollegiate Athletics Project, were announced at Tuesday's Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics (KCIA) meeting in Washington, D.C.
Harrison served on the project as a member of AGB's presidential advisory committee. "He, along with 13 other leaders at key universities across the country, were vital counselors as AGB examined the relationship of college athletics and academics and the role governing boards play in the oversight of intercollegiate athletics," said Laura K. Lilly, marketing specialist for the AGB.
Harrison has been involved in intercollegiate athletics on the national level for many years. He chairs the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA's) Committee on Academic Performance, the group charged with implementing academic reforms among the nation's leading intercollegiate athletic programs, and serves on a number of other NCAA committees. He also is a former chair of the NCAA Executive Committee.
The AGB report that was released Tuesday calls for enhanced board oversight of college athletics. The report cautions that as intercollegiate athletics departments increasingly operate like businesses, boards must act to ensure an appropriate balance between athletics and academics in their institutions, or policy makers or regulators will do it for them.
The report focuses on three recommendations for appropriate board engagement:
• The governing board is ultimately accountable for athletics policy and oversight and must fulfill this fiduciary responsibility.
• The board must act decisively to uphold the integrity of the athletics program and its alignment with the academic mission of the institution.
• The board must educate itself about its policy role and oversight of intercollegiate athletics.
“In light of recent issues in college sports, it is imperative for boards to function at a higher level of awareness and judgment in order to address the financial challenges associated with college sports, to ensure the link between intercollegiate athletics and academic priorities, and to reaffirm standards and ethics in college athletics,” said AGB President Richard D. Legon.
“Chief executive officers administer their institutions’ sports programs on a daily basis, but boards must engage actively and appropriately in the policy considerations surrounding the key issues, which can have a major impact on their institutions’ financial welfare and reputation,” said John T. Casteen, president emeritus of the University of Virginia and director of the project.