The members of Michigan’s Advisory Board on Intercollegiate Athletics have voiced their frustration about not being consulted on major athletic department matters, including conference expansion:
Professors at the meeting alleged that the Athletic Department did not consult the ABIA on the addition of the Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten Conference.
“I happen to think that the implications of expanding the conference … are significant academic matters, and I was personally very disappointed when I heard it on the radio,” Political Science Prof. Edie Goldenberg, an ABIA member, said.
If any single issue deserves to be double checked with the faculty, it is conference membership. That goes doubly so in the Big Ten where membership in the athletic conference carries with it membership in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a research partnership which now involves $9.3 billion in funded research. Also important for faculty to review is decisions about what sports the school will sponsor, a decision the ABIA was also not consulted on.
But it is not surprising that the advisory board was not consulted when you consider the attitude of some of their members:
ABIA member Michael Imperiale, a Medical School professor, pointed out that Brandon does not have a vote and that the committee is meant to advise the athletic director.
“My sense is that it’s not our job to micromanage the Athletic Department,” Imperiale said. “I think we need to remember that while these are student athletes and while we do look after the student athletes, really this is the Athletic Department and it’s not an academic unit.”
The fact that the athletic department is not an academic unit and can or often does have goals that do not fit neatly with the university’s academic mission is exactly why faculty oversight of the athletic department is required by the NCAA. Even just the act of advising keeps the athletic department in check by letting it know where it stands with the rest of the university.