College Athletics Uncensored
Feb. 11, 2004
On February 12, at 7:30 p.m., TCU is hosting the annual Martin/Delta Gamma lectureship series on values and ethics. This year's topic focuses on ethics in athletics and will feature a panel of four of college athletics' most influential national figures. TCU is proud to welcome Dr. Myles Brand, president of the NCAA; Mr. Roy Kramer, former commissioner of the Southeastern Conference and the architect of the Bowl Championship Series; Mr. Andy Geiger, athletics director at Ohio State; and Coach Mack Brown, head football coach at the University of Texas to the TCU campus for this public forum. The event will take place in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum and is free to the public.
Why is this an important topic for discussion? Higher education provides a forum to exchange ideas and thoughts, but rarely are athletic issues featured in such a prestigious university lecture series. Often the exchange of ideas and thoughts on athletics issues are done by less informed individuals through Internet chat lines and radio call-in shows. Thursday's panel discussion on ethics in athletics provides a wonderful opportunity for the public to question, listen and learn as this prominent panel clarifies some of the ethical issues facing college athletics today.
Ethical conduct, as defined in the NCAA Code of Ethics, is "fundamental values (such) as respect, fairness, civility, honesty and responsibility. These values should be manifest not only in athletics participation but also in the broad spectrum of activities affecting the athletics program." Recently, ethical issues have been under scrutiny in all sports, whether it be youngsters' dishonesty about their age to compete in the Little League World Series; high school students having test scores and grades altered to remain eligible; college coaches involved in embarrassing off the field conduct or professional athletes using illegal performance-enhancing drugs, to name a few.
TCU's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has a mission statement that serves as an ethical compass in decision-making processes. The department's mission statement includes six requirements: Focus on the well-being of the student-athlete; Provide Division 1-A programs for men and women in which the participants have a successful competitive experience; Support a meaningful academic experience leading to graduation; Develop support for the University among its many constituents; Commit to the philosophy and principles of the NCAA, Conference USA and the University; and Provide equitable opportunities for all student-athletes and athletic department personnel, including women and minorities. The athletic department's mission statement complements the mission statement of the University, which is "To educate individuals to think and act as responsible citizens in the global community." We use these established guidelines to help us navigate through ethical issues that arise on a daily basis. It is easy for most to see the black and white in some ethical scenarios, such as a coach not reporting a player's positive drug test result or a student-athlete cheating on an exam. But when situations are not as clear cut, then situational ethics occur. An ethical issue can develop into a moral dilemma, in which there is a fine balance between entertainment and the dollars it produces versus an academic issue and its subsequent effect on the long-term well-being of the student-athlete.
As the revenue dollars and media exposure have increased exponentially in Division 1A athletics, so too have uncomfortable and awkward ethical conflicts become more evident in our sports pages. As James A. Michener wrote in his book Sports In America, abuses in sports are nothing new. However, because the stakes are so much higher now, particularly at the Division 1A level, it is important to examine ethics in athletics and to look for ways to better align athletics' code of ethics and values with those of Higher Education. The increased visibility of sports through the different media outlets has made athletics a highly scrutinized business. Once upon a time, college athletics was simply about competition and school pride. Now it is a multi-million dollar business at each Division 1A institution. The dollars create pressure to be successful; this in turn produces situations, which are often times more gray than black and white. How each institution handles these unique situations is a reflection on the values of that institution and of the society in which we live.
I encourage you to attend Thursday's lecture and hear this distinguished panel discuss the ethical climate in college athletics today. Mr. Dutch Baughman, the highly respected Executive Director of the Division 1A Athletics Directors, will serve as moderator. We are hopeful this event will help us as we examine our situations and look to reshape and redraw those ethical boundary lines that challenge us today.
TCU Athletics Director