With the blessing of President Nannerl O. Keohane, the Academic Council endorsed the goals of a new faculty-led coalition looking to reform collegiate athletics.
The Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA) started in 2002 as an e-mail network of faculty members at dozens of Division I universities. Working with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and faculty groups such as the American Association of University Professors, the group has developed a list of goals: improving graduation rates of athletes, promoting greater academic control over athletics departments, cutting the number of athletics scholarships, reducing the commercialization of college sports, and promoting the welfare of athletes. The last item covers a variety of issues, ranging from reducing the amount of time athletes spend in nonacademic activities to cutting back on the length of athletic seasons.
The resolution from Duke's Academic Council stated, "We may differ on the wisdom of some of the specific reform proposals...[but] we applaud this effort to initiate a productive national discussion among leaders and support this ongoing effort to ensure that intercollegiate athletics be conducted in a manner consistent with the academic mission of higher education."
Keohane says the time is right to change college athletics. "The pressures on student athletes now are strong, but right now they are being countered by strong leadership from some at the NCAA and from faculty and administrators at many universities. I'm particularly glad that this organization is focusing on student-athlete welfare, which is something that is of great concern to me."
One of COIA's first public acts was to issue a national statement raising concerns about the Atlantic Coast Conference's effort to expand by absorbing teams from the Big East Conference. Academic Council Chair Nancy Allen said the council's executive committee established ties with COIA during the expansion talks and wants to keep up the relationship.