Former U-M president James Duderstadt (1988-1996) has been a vocal and frequent critic of what he calls “big-time” college sports: football and basketball. (Pictured here with his wife Anne)
“During a 30-minute speech to the Ann Arbor North Rotary Club on Thursday afternoon, Duderstadt singled out Michigan’s new football season ticket policy as an example of what he believes are wrong with college athletics. The policy, which requires minimum donations for the right to purchase some season tickets, was criticized by Duderstadt as “extortion” and “insanity.”
… “I have known the sin of big-time athletics,” Duderstadt said. “Most college sports are just great. But big-time college football and basketball stand apart as having little if any relevance to the academic mission of the university.”
Duderstadt cited the University of Colorado’s ongoing recruiting scandal and maintained that no athletic department in the country, including Michigan, pays its own way.
“Big-time college sports do far more damage to the university then most realize or are willing to admit,” Duderstadt said.
He said that that the current model of college football and basketball exploits young athletes, gives birth to scandals, excuses inappropriate behavior by athletes and coaches and has schools locked in a battle where “the teams that win the most spend the most.”
Duderstadt played football for Yale and said he thinks college athletics shouldn’t be eliminated. But he proposed a variety of methods to overhaul the current system, including making freshmen ineligible, eliminating athletic scholarships, mainstreaming coach’s compensation with that of other university staff and preventing them from endorsing products, putting the faculty in control of athletic departments and subjecting those departments to public financial audits. … “