A two-day conference of about three dozen college faculty members from around the country at Drake University ended today far short of its goal. Instead of a plan to "address the hypocrisy in college sports" that could have been presented quickly to campus leaders, the group left with a 12-point "working document" it plans to use as a starting point for another meeting in several months.
The group did decide to call itself the National Association of Faculty for Collegiate Athletic Reform and mostly was in agreement with the notion that "whenever possible, universities return college sport to its amateur moorings by adopting need-based financial aid."
"This indeed was daunting," said the disappointed conference organizer, Jon Ericson, a professor in Drake's department of rhetoric and communication studies. "We set our goals high. Now everybody has a chance to go back home, get some rest and begin writing briefs for our next meeting. We'll make our case the way it ought to be."
Some members were concerned that leaving without any plan to give to university leaders would create the impression of, as Ericson put it, "faculty doing what they always do, talking something to death and avoiding the hard decisions."
The working document opened with a statement that accused "the bureaucracy of the NCAA and its member institutions" of helping the growth of commercialism and professionalism in college sports and having a detrimental impact on academic standards and faculty control of their classrooms.
Among the proposals in the working document:
* All academic counseling, advising and support programs should be located outside the athletic department.
* Schools should disclose the academic major, academic adviser, courses, grade-point average and instructor for each student in the university. But no individual grades would be released. This would help determine if athletes were taking easy courses.
* Calling for a review of the length of seasons for each sport. Some participants thought baseball players lose more classroom time than their counterparts in football or basketball.
* Supporting a proposed NCAA rules change that would tie the number of athletic scholarships a school can award annually to academic success.
* Money from shoe and apparel companies should be paid to the university and not to any coach.
* No money from mandatory student-activity fees should be used to support intercollegiate athletics.
Not included in the document was a proposal that the number of football scholarships be reduced from 85 to 45. That was one of the few proposals that would dramatically reduce the costs of college sports.
There were contrasting views on the overall scope of the sessions.
"I was looking for much more action," said Terry Knapp, a professor of psychology at Nevada-Las Vegas.
"I don't think reform happens in a day," said Ellen Staurowsky of Ithaca College, who has co-authored a book on college sports.
The best perspective seemed to come from Murray Sperber, a professor of English and American studies at Indiana University who has written three widely acclaimed books about problems in college sports.
"There was nothing here that others, including the Carnegie Commission in 1929, did not come up with," he said. "The important thing is that the critics keep criticizing. We're in a trough right now, where reform of college sports in not on the national agenda. But it's important that critics keep making their points."