(Notes provided by Allan Penwell).
Our own Tom Ulen was the speaker at our May 22nd meeting. Tom chairs the board that oversees the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA) at the University of Illinois. The University provides institutional control of the athletic program so it meets academic standards as well as stays in compliance with NCAA rules. Tom discussed a brief history of college athletics, including the ongoing influence of money, and related those issues to today’s student-athletes.
In the early 1980’s, big money began to flow into college athletics from television and sponsors which has complicated the trade-off between academics and sport economics. At the U of I, there are 19 sports which have a budget of $75 million. This overall budget puts the University of Illinois in 8th place in the Big Ten in terms of athletic budget. By comparison, Ohio State has a whopping 37 intercollegiate sports and a budget that is nearly twice that of the U of I.
Of the U of I’s $75 million athletic budget, $5 million comes from the I-Fund, $2.7 million from bowl games, $1 million from logo royalties, $32 million from the Big Ten Network, and the remainder from television, ticket sales, etc. For a few years, the University will share in a $66 million settlement with Penn State from the Jerry Sandusky scandal. In the near future, participating universities will share in a $600 million pot from a season-ending football series. The money keeps growing, and so do the challenges.
One such challenge is working with the Big Ten Network (BTN). Traditional team scheduling has come under pressure in order to provide more live content to air on the BTN. For example, the typical Friday-Saturday schedule in volleyball has been adjusted to include some weekday games that can then be aired on the BTN. This growing pressure is largely about money. However, such demands can put too much pressure on students-athletes and, with the Big Ten geographically stretching from Nebraska to New Jersey, the time away from class becomes more of a factor just in travel time. Complicating all of this is the fact that the BTN is governed by the university presidents.
Tom believes the University provides a good balance between sports and academics. Overall, student-athletes have a higher GPA and a higher graduation rate than the general student body. DIA staff monitors students to ensure they are on the right academic track and are in compliance with NCAA rules. Inside the DIA is a compliance staff of 5 employees which is headed by an attorney.
Tom commented that athletic coaches who are new to the University of Illinois are often surprised by the high academic standards on campus. This has taken some adjustments for some coaches, but ultimately has been beneficial as the preparation in various sports become increasingly complex. For example, when Ron Zook was hired as football coach, he was amazed at the high standards of the University’s academic programs. However, he began to see these standards as an asset because it meant that the athletes who played for him would be better equipped to understand the complicated schemes that he and his assistant coaches wanted to utilize.
Tom also discussed the issues of the Northwestern football players’ lawsuit to unionize, proposed subsidies for athletes living expenses, and even the number of meals that can be provided to athletes.
|May 29th||June 5th||June 12th||June 19th|
|Introductions||Kris Young||Harold Adams||Curt Anderson||Oktay Baran|
|Invocation||Phillip Holthaus||Larry Johnson||Nick Jungels||Andrew Kerins|
|Greeters||Kris Young||Harold Adams||Curt Anderson||Oktay Baran|
|Bruce Hatfield||Mary Hodson||Phillip Holthaus||Larry Johnson|
|Song Leader||Reuben Chambers||Paul Conforti||Molly Delaney||Ata Durukan|
|Rotary Minute||Paceley||Van Buren||Harold Adams||Curt Anderson|
May 29th – Dr. Marva Nelson, Associate Professor of English at Parkland College, will discuss bullying
June 5th – Zack Grant, Manager, Student Sustainable Farm, UIUC
June 12th – Daniel Bronson Lowe, PhD, Senior Infection Specialist at Carle (meeting in the Skyway)
June 19th – Carly McRory, Communications Director, Champaign County Economic Development Corporation
June 26th – Pass the Gavel (Reign of Chuck the Terrible ends)
July 3rd – Susan Warsaw, September 11th volunteer from Champaign
July 10th – Lacey Rains-Lowe, City of Champaign Planner, will discuss the city’s Environmental Sustainability Plan
July 17th – TBD