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Colleges at the Crossroads

Taking Sides on Contested Issues

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Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis and Pietro A. Sasso

Focusing on crucial issues in higher education, this book challenges readers to go beyond taken-for-granted assumptions about America’s colleges and universities and instead critically examine important questions facing them in today’s troubled world. Each chapter presents divergent perspectives, that is, "pro" and "con" views, in the hope of stimulating reasoned dialogue among students, faculty, administrators, and the public at large. Readers will explore how internal factors in the academic community often interact with external social, economic, and political influences to produce conflictual results. They will see that academe is hardly value-neutral and inevitably political. This book urges them to transcend strident political persuasion and instead engage in the careful analysis needed to make colleges better.

The text provides in-depth appraisal of key topics of controversy: the purposes of higher education, liberal education, academic freedom, political correctness, tenure, shared governance, faculty workload, admissions tests, student learning, Greek life, the worth of college, equity and social justice, athletics, student entitlement, technology and distance instruction, and college amenities. The book will appeal to students, faculty, staff, and all those interested in the future of higher education. It is especially useful for courses in contemporary issues in higher education, foundations of higher education, higher education and society, college student development, and the organization and administration of higher education.

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31. Are Collegiate Athletics Necessary in Contemporary Higher Education? (Curtis M. Clock / Thalia M. Mulvihill)

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31.  Are Collegiate Athletics Necessary in Contemporary Higher Education?

CURTIS M. CLOCK AND THALIA M. MULVIHILL

The growing often vitriolic debate over whether or not collegiate athletics is necessary within contemporary higher education has reached a crescendo. Athletics Departments are increasingly requiring higher percentages of the overall university budget and institutions of higher education are under intense scrutiny to produce winning teams, model student-athletes, and Title IX compliant programs. And groundbreaking court cases such as O’Bannon v. National Collegiate Athletics Association, 2009 and EA Sports and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. NCAA, 2013 served as catalysts for a wholesale reexamination of the relationship between higher education and athletics. At the same time, athletics is a key part of the overall strategic planning for most institutions, and is used to help generate broad public interest and involvement with higher education. Athletics represents a primary reason many donors decide to contribute time and money.

This chapter examines why collegiate athletics remains an integral part of the college experience, even within this context, and puts forth an argument for continued inclusion of collegiate athletics as part of the overall mission of higher education. Specifically, the authors argue that collegiate athletics contributes to, more than it hinders, the overall mission of higher education within a democratic society. Two types of student perspectives will be used to analyze and bring forward a more nuanced understanding of the tenets of the argument, and student...

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