Sunday's New York Times featured an article titled "How Big-Time Sports Ate College Life," which examines long-simmering issues of commercialization in college sports–a topic the paper recently reignited with two controversial opinion pieces by columnist Joe Nocera. This time, education writer Laura Pappano compared prestigious universities' academic renown with those same universities' famous football and basketball teams. "Ohio State boasts 17 members of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, three Nobel laureates, eight Pulitzer Prize winners, 35 Guggenheim Fellows and a MacArthur winner," Pappano writes. "But sports rule." She also discusses how the extraordinary popularity of sports leads to coaches receiving multi-million-dollar salaries while professors struggle to receive funding for travel.
In this context, Pappano quotes University of Michigan President Emeritus James J. Duderstadt, author of Intercollegiate Athletics and the American University: A University President's Perspective, which continues to be every bit as relevant today as it was upon publication in 2000. Duderstadt told the Times, "Nine of 10 people don't understand what you are saying when you talk about research universities. But you say 'Michigan' and they understand those striped helmets running under the banner.
Also relevant to the debate over the proper role of sports and treatment of college athletes is Brian L. Porto's The Supreme Court and the NCAA: The Case for Less Commercialization and More Due Process in College Sports, published this month by U-M Press.