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We Don't Need College Sports Unions, We Need Enlightened Leadership
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We Don't Need College Sports Unions, We Need Enlightened Leadership

Apr 11 2014, 1:52pm CDT | by

Sports have historically been a wonderful source of leadership lessons. They’ve even occasionally led the way on social issues, like racial integration – from Jackie Robinson’s baseball breakthrough...

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16 weeks ago

We Don't Need College Sports Unions, We Need Enlightened Leadership

Apr 11 2014, 1:52pm CDT | by

Sports have historically been a wonderful source of leadership lessons. They’ve even occasionally led the way on social issues, like racial integration – from Jackie Robinson’s baseball breakthrough to the South African rugby team’s historic world-cup victory (both celebrated in recent films) to Texas Western’s improbable 1966 NCAA basketball championship.

This is surely part of the reason that business people tend to be sports fans – we look to sports for inspiration as much as for entertainment. We appreciate that, just as with quarterly earnings reports, there is a clarity about who’s winning and losing. And we love the surprise opportunities for Cinderella stories —  now an annual occurrence in March Madness.

Unfortunately sports can also be pretty uninspiring sometimes. Take the recent news that Northwestern University student-athletes want to unionize. They’re led by former football players who say the university rakes in cash – from ticket sales, TV revenue, sponsorships, etc. – while the players, all full-time students, spend 40 hours a week (at least) training, practicing and playing football. Some don’t graduate. Others suffer injuries that can nag them for life.

The union drive – and the NLRB’s approval of the players’ petition to be classified as university employees – is part of a growing movement to rectify the inequity created by all the money generated by big-time college sports. A recent report showed that while Texas A&M spent about $120,000 on Heisman-Trophy winner Johnny Manziel’s education, it likely reaped hundreds of millions in donations, and as much as $37 million worth of media exposure. And this week, just a day after leading his team to the national-championship game, University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari released a book not only calling for players to receive stipends of up to $5,000 a year, but comparing today’s NCAA to the Soviet Union in its final years. “[Y]ou could see it crumbling,” Calipari writes, “and it was just a matter of time before it either changed or ceased to exist.”

But what’s even more outrageous is that the “education” the athletes are supposedly getting turns out, far too often, to be worthless. A recent story by journalist Paul M. Barrett focused on an institutional failure to graduate, or even educate, many student athletes at the University of North Carolina. They are not alone.

When you have an esteemed educational institution abandoning all of its core principles in the name of winning games, something is seriously wrong. But to fix it, we don’t need unions. We need leadership.

This is not dissimilar to when a business, in pursuit of short-term profit or suffering from poor leadership, loses focus on its primary goals. There, it’s up to the CEO to refocus his entire team on the company’s mission. Here, university presidents have to step up and attack the problem – before somebody (Northwestern football players, for instance) does it for them or to them. Their primary mission is to educate and they should act like it. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are three simple ideas for college leaders, and the NCAA that serves them:

  1. Offer all full-time athletes an extra two years to complete their degrees – on full scholarship. They were promised an education and deserve a fair chance to get it. If colleges don’t want to pay for an extra two years, they will make sure their athletes get a quality education in four years. This reminds me of how powerful a simple incentive proved in healthcare. Told by the federal government that they would have to pay for readmissions that occurred within 30 days of a surgery — in essence a 30-day money back guarantee — hospitals took dramatic steps, improved patient care, and the readmission rate plummeted. All due to a simple guarantee: deliver what you promised.
  2. Allow academic advisors – not coaches – to hold players out of games when they fall behind in school. This is not about grades, it’s about teaching student-athletes what is important and getting them the education we know is so valuable.
  3. Make sure your athletic director’s bonus is tied to on-field success and graduation rates equally.  If we do this for all ADs and maybe even coaches, we raise the bar for everyone. And why not use the Ivy League as a benchmark for target graduation rates.

Universities could take the easy way out by refusing to admit students with poor grades or test scores.  But that’s simply not equitable because sports still serve as a way out and up for so many underprivileged kids. The responsible solution for a top-notch educational institution is to seek out the best athletes and turn them into quality students, not the reverse.

Here’s another group that needs to show some leadership: alumni. Most of us take great pride in following our alma maters’ athletics. Let’s ensure that pride is real and let our college presidents know that we value graduation rates as highly as won-loss records. Then we’ll have winning programs we can be proud of — and student-athletes who can be successful whatever path they choose.

 
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7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat was told today. ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broken into by ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

7 weeks ago

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Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was reje ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minis ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selata ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

8 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2. ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

8 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Moham ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
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3

8 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

8 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaar Scheme 2014 ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
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1

8 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansara Skyway (Kidex) to ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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