Big time college sports like basketball and football have a contradictory reputation at many universities. They bring in big bucks and engender loyalty to a school, but they also distract from higher education’s primary mission. Are reforms necessary in the college sports system? Host Frank Stasio talks to Dave Dewitt, WUNC’s education reporter and a former college basketball player and coach; Charles Clotfelter, professor of public policy, economics and law at Duke University and author of “Big-Time Sports in American Universities” (Cambridge University Press/2011); and Will Blythe, editor-at-large of Byliner and author of “To Hate Like This is to be Happy Forever” (Harper/2007), which chronicles the UNC-Duke basketball rivalry.
Corruption in big-time college sports recently claimed another victim: Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel. Once regarded as a paragon of integrity, Tressel is now seen as one more example of a coach who recruited star players and built a successful program with the benefit of illegal gifts from boosters. Whether the result of Tressel’s deliberate disregard of rules or his neglect as coach, the scandal at Ohio State reminds us again that big-time college sports is deeply flawed.
Many American universities are known around the country not for their academic accomplishments, but for their football or basketball teams. We’ll hear how the commercialization of college sports creates conflicts for traditional academic values, as universities strive to succeed in athletics, with author and Duke University Public Policy Professor Charles Clotfelter.