Thursday, June 11, 2020

Will College Athletics Survive? Should They?

JUNE 11, 2020 | written by STEVE ULRICH
your must-read briefing on what's driving the day in NCAA Division III

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1.  Will College Athletics Survive?
Should They?

by Paul N. Friga, Chronicle of Higher Education

"As athletic directors and presidents look to the fall, major uncertainty stares back. Will students be on campus? Will the virus be contained? If we have football games, should fans attend? As Covid-19 decimates university resources, many leaders are wondering what changes they should make to athletic programs, or if they should have sports at all.

Whatever changes leaders make to college athletics, a vast enterprise will be affected. Sports provide educational opportunities to hundreds of thousands of students every year, bring large communities together, and require huge expenditures on campuses, more than $18 billion in 2018. Significant issues have arisen with growth, including the financial drain on university budgets, academic abuse and recruiting scandals, and questions of exploitation of the athletes themselves.

The positive impact of organized sports is well documented, as more than eight out of 10 athletes will graduate from college, and more than 35 percent earn postgraduate degrees. College athletes are more likely to have higher incomes, life satisfaction, and overall engagement.

On the other hand, the rise of collegiate athletics has been marred by frequent controversy. In fact, some propose that universities have lost their way and that the current model has become too big and corrupt, essentially generating billions of dollars at the expense of the athlete, who only receives a college scholarship and small living allowance."

>> Why It Matters: "In the wake of the virus, universities are pursuing a wide range of options including complete elimination of athletics, cutting certain sports, and changing travel plans. Dropping athletics is a major decision that can free up resources and increase the focus on academics, but it could negatively affect recruiting, especially for smaller institutions that use athletics to draw students to their campuses."

>> Reality Check: "One thing that we can expect is the presence of Covid-19 on campus. The first students to return to campus, as of early June, are athletes. Reports are already coming in that players and coaches tested positive for the virus at the Universities of Alabama and of Mississippi, and at Arkansas State, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State Universities. That number is likely to increase, and presidents will be faced with the tough choice of whether to shut down a team or program, as President Mitch Daniels of Purdue University mentioned in a recent call with the U.S. Congress."

>> The Final Word: "Like all things, college athletics need to be managed well, with data, and connected to strategy. Higher education should take its unique positioning in society to speak with a collective voice against exploitation and social injustice."

>> Read More ($)

2. Who Gets In?

Football crowd Perkins Stadium photo for Oct. 8
by Eric Olson, Associated Press

"Athletic administrators at schools with high ticket demand for college football are making plans to determine who gets a seat if stadium capacities are reduced because of concerns about the coronavirus.

The ticketing dilemma is just one wrinkle schools are working through as college football pushes toward some kind of season. The complications of bringing students back to school and ensuring they are safe vary from state to state and from campus to campus. But most schools are planning for games -- and putting fans in the seats if they can.

“I’ve been in this industry 50 years and dealt with a lot of stuff, but nothing like this,” said Fred Maglione, a Philadelphia-area consultant in the sports and live entertainment industry. “Everybody’s trying to figure this out. The real challenge is that you don’t just have a Plan A and a Plan B. You’re down to Plan Z. You have so many different scenarios you run through your mind every day because the playing table changes every day.”

>> Situational Awareness: "To get the most people allowable into the stadium, Maglione said, athletic departments likely will need to secure confirmations from those who plan to attend. Space will open for fans lower on the priority list if ticket holders with higher priority don’t feel safe and stay away."

>> Hands Up: “You’re going to have to raise your hand if you want to go, I have a hunch,” Maglione said. “Athletic departments are going to have to be in communication with fans each week to say who wants to attend and then there’s going to be some kind of priority system and/or lottery system.”

>> Be Smart: This will affect Division III. Who, if anyone, gets to attend? Parents? Students? Friends? Alumni? Who do you ask to stay home?

2019 Division III Football Home Attendance Leaders
  1. Hampden-Sydney (6,949 average)
  2. UW-Whitewater (6,095)
  3. St. Thomas, Minn. (5,577)
  4. Wesleyan, Conn. (5,047)
  5. Saint John's (4,975)
  6. Emory & Henry (4,870)
  7. Geneva (4,038)
  8. Simpson (4,012)
  9. Trinity, Conn. (3,890)
  10. Christopher Newport (3,748)

>> Continue Reading

3. Iowa Wesleyan Looks to NAIA
Iowa Wesleyan University has announced its intention to leave the NCAA following the completion of the 2020-21 academic year and pursue membership in the NAIA.

The Tigers will leave the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) as a football-only associate member and the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) as a full member.

>> Quotable I: Iowa Wesleyan University interim President Christine Plunkett stated, "In considering the changing landscape of higher education and the needs of our current and future student-athletes, Iowa Wesleyan intends to apply for membership within the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)." 

>> Quotable II: SLIAC Commissioner Dick Kaiser said, "The SLIAC is obviously disappointed that Iowa Wesleyan has chosen to leave the conference for a different affiliation. The Tigers had made significant headway in a variety of SLIAC sports during the past few years. These are very trying times in intercollegiate athletics today and I am sure it was a difficult decision for the Iowa Wesleyan administration. As a conference, we want to wish them well and hope their next opportunities fit their specific needs."

>> Quotable III: “The UMAC is disappointed to have Iowa Wesleyan leave our conference as an associate member,” said UMAC Commissioner Corey Borchardt. “Iowa Wesleyan has been a positive contributor to the conference in football and has upheld the conference’s mission and core values over the last seven years.”

>> What's Next: The SLIAC, formed in 1989, will move to an eight-member league, beginning in the 2021-22 academic year. Member institutions include Blackburn, Eureka, Fontbonne, Greenville, Principia, Spalding, Webster, and Westminster.

>> Be Smart: The UMAC, formed in 1972, will still maintain its automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Division III championships for football for a minimum of two years (through the 2022-2023 academic year). Member institutions include Bethany Lutheran, St. Scholastica, Crown, Martin Luther, North Central University, Northland, the University of Minnesota, Morris, the University of Northwestern, and Wisconsin-Superior make up the league's full-time membership.

4. The Coming Collision

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

"College athletes are facing unprecedented pressure and expectations as universities bring them back to campus during COVID-19.
Why it matters: It’s one thing when “stick to sports” gets thrown around at pro athletes, but a cohort of college kids coming off a summer of activism amid the Black Lives Matter movement will be forced to navigate the tricky combination of sports, the pandemic and a new role as social justice warrior, writes Axios' Jeff Tracy."
  • Empowered by social media, student-athletes who’d previously been unable or unwilling to speak out have already begun leading the charge toward effecting meaningful change.
  • Backed by a public that increasingly supports Black Lives Matter and teammates that stand behind them in solidarity, athletes will only gain confidence as they continue to make their voices heard.
  • Yes, but: All of that momentum is at the whim of the coronavirus, which could throw the country back into a shutdown with little warning.
The big picture: There are over 460,000 NCAA student-athletes, and those with the biggest platforms and loudest voices are the most likely to be back in action when school starts up.
  • College football players have already been the most outspoken (at Auburn and Missouri, to name two prime examples), and they number over 73,000.
  • Basketball players, both men and women, meanwhile, are about 35,000 strong, and though their season begins in November, practices and preseason will ensure they’re on the courts soon after the semester begins.  
Between the lines: Most recently, student-athletes took a huge step forward in their decades-long fight for compensation regarding their name, image and likeness, which is likely to begin in the 2021–22 season.
The bottom line: The increased control athletes are wresting away from their institutions, paired with some expected fan outrage over a season in peril and athletes who refuse to "stick to sports," could take the sports culture wars to a whole new level.

- courtesy of Axios


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5.  Comings and Goings

6.  1 Paloma Thing
Ruby Red Pamplemousse Paloma Recipe
by Margaret Eby, Food & Wine

"I have nothing against Margaritas. They’re delicious, and they can be improvised upon a thousand ways, depending on what ingredients you have on hand. They’re great frozen or on the rocks, and an excellent pairing for summer meals. But if I have a bottle of tequila knocking around the house, the drink that I’ll go to first isn’t a Margarita. It’s a Paloma.

A Paloma, the Spanish word for dove, is a tequila cocktail that’s got a balance of bitter, sour, salty, sweet, and, depending on the tequila you use, a little spicy or umami. For something so flavorful, the ingredients are incredibly simple: tequila, grapefruit soda, lime juice, and a little salt on the rim if you care for it. That’s it. Not only is it delicious, you can make them in the can of grapefruit soda, if you want. It’s a great drink to have on hand at the beach or in the park, or in a backyard party, when we can have those safely again."

>> Enjoy Your Weekend

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