It is the goal of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics to ensure that intercollegiate athletics programs operate within the educational mission of their colleges and universities.

  • Knight Commission to Examine the Impact of Changes to College Athlete Image Rights and Other Regulatory Issues

    Discussion to include consideration of O’Bannon ruling and effects of other legal challenges to current college sports model

    Who: The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, co-chaired by William E. “Brit” Kirwan, chancellor, University System of Maryland, and R. Gerald Turner, president, Southern Methodist University, will be joined by experts in public policy, economics, and antitrust law. This will be the first meeting for new members Walter Harrison, president, University of Hartford; Penelope Kyle, president, Radford University; and Nancy Zimpher, chancellor, State University of New York.

    What: The Knight Commission continues its public examination of important policy issues involving college sports, including effects of recent litigation on the current model of college sports. Expert panelists will discuss the impact of possible changes that might compensate athletes for their image rights. Legal experts will discuss suggestions for new regulatory approaches, including an antitrust exemption for the NCAA. See agenda below for more information.

    When: Tuesday, May 19, 2015. 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EDT. Media will have an opportunity to interview and speak with presenters and Commission co-chairmen at the conclusion of the public session.

    Where: Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center in the Leavey Center, 3800 Reservoir Road, Washington, D.C. (Salons DEF). Media work room will be available from 9 – 5 p.m. in Conference Room 4.

    Attend: Sessions are open to the media and public. To RSVP for the meeting, contact Hadley Dreibelbis, Widmeyer Communications, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 202.667.0901

    Follow: Follow @KnightAthletics for the latest developments from this meeting. Photographs and highlights from the meeting will be posted on following the event.

    Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics: Public Meeting Agenda (Salons DEF)

    • 9:00 – 10:45 a.m.
 Examining the implications of the O’Bannon ruling and related issues affecting college athletes’ image rights not addressed in the ruling This session will examine how universities, conferences and the NCAA are preparing to address the impact of the O’Bannon vs. NCAA court ruling and related issues. Panelists:
      • Doug Allen, professor of practice in labor and employment relations, Pennsylvania State University; former assistant executive director, NFLPA and former executive director, Screen Actors Guild
      • Kevin Lennon, vice president, NCAA
      • Kendall Spencer, chair, NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee; former track athlete, University of New Mexico
      • A.L. (Lorry) Spitzer, partner, Ropes & Gray
      • Jack Swarbrick, vice president and director of athletics, University of Notre Dame
      • Andrew Zimbalist, professor of economics, Smith College
    • 10:45 - 11:00 a.m. Break
    • 11:00 - 12:30 p.m.
 Responding to Change: Alternative Regulatory Systems for College Sports Legal and policy experts examine the long-range impact of legal challenges to the current Division I structure and the changing landscape both for college sports and universities, and offer suggestions for new approaches, including an antitrust exemption for the NCAA. Panelists:
      • Jeffrey Blattner, Legal Policy Solutions, PLLC; former deputy assistant attorney general for the antitrust division, U.S. Department of Justice
      • Ronald Katz, senior counsel, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; board chair, Santa Clara Institute of Sports Law and Ethics
      • Matthew Mitten, co-author, “A Regulatory Solution to Better Promote the Educational Values and Economic Sustainability of
Intercollegiate Athletics;” professor of law and director, National Sports Law Institute, Marquette University Law School
      • Brian Porto, author, “The Supreme Court and the NCAA;” professor, Vermont Law School
    • 12:30 p.m. Public Sessions conclude

    About the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics
    The Knight Commission was formed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in October 1989 in response to highly visible scandals in college sports. The Commission’s goal is to promote a reform agenda that emphasizes the educational mission of college sports. Over the years, the NCAA has adopted a number of the Commission’s recommendations including the rule that requires teams to be on track to graduate more than 50 percent of their players in order to be eligible for postseason competition. The Commission’s Athletic and Academic Spending Database provides financial data for more than 220 public Division I institutions to provide greater financial transparency on athletics spending.

    About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
    The Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

  • The Knight Commission’s athletic and academic spending database allows users to compare athletic and academic spending trends for NCAA Division I public institutions, athletic conferences, and divisions.


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  • Collaborative Efforts to Strengthen Educational Opportunities through College Sports

    The Knight Commission shared key principles and ideas that it continues to promote with NCAA President Mark Emmert and members of the new NCAA Division I Board of Directors and Division I Council in a March 16, 2015 memorandum. This communication occurs at a time when the NCAA Division I is implementing a new governance structure while also addressing unprecedented legal challenges to the current model of intercollegiate athletics. Read the memo HERE.

    Knight Commission Studies Interest in Alternative Division I Competition Models

    A Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics study reveals interest among university presidents, athletics administrators, faculty and head coaches in exploring alternative models for Division I competition and administration of different sports that may reduce missed class time and travel costs. The study was conducted to assess interest in whether different structures in various sports might offset the challenging effects of some conferences’ newly enlarged geographic footprints.

    The study, “Exploring a Division I Model Federated by Sport,” was administered by the Center for Research in Intercollegiate Athletics, with assistance from Collegiate Sports Associates, and is intended to serve as a resource to Division I institutions as they discuss many topics emerging within the newly established rules-making structure.

    Read the complete press release HERE. Access the study report HERE.

    Challenge Awards to Support Research Using Financial Database  

    The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, an initiative of the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation, announces a challenge program to support research proposals that use the Commission's Athletic and Academic Spending Database ( to investigate athletics debt, athletics debt service, or institutional financial support (e.g., student fees, institutional transfers to athletics) of NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletic programs. The Knight Commission welcomes a wide variety of frameworks to consider this research, including from the fields of higher education, sport management, economics/finance, and business.  Awards of up to $5,000 will be provided; the deadline is March 15, 2015.  For more information, read the Call for Proposals

    On Thursday, November 20, 2014, Amy Perko and Scott Hirko presented a workshop on the Knight Commission’s NCAA Division I Athletic and Academic Spending Database to attendees at the Association for the Study of Higher Education annual conference in Washington, DC.  

    Study to Explore Alternative Sport Structures

    At its September 8-9, 2014 meeting, the Knight Commission announced a study to explore alternative sport structures that may respond to increasing financial pressures and the vast differences among sports in costs, market appeal and organizational structures. The study, to be launched in Fall 2014, further pursues concepts that emerged from the Commission’s 2013 research on the governance and structure of college sports. It will probe interest in a system that could allow institutions to alter competitive affiliations for different sports to reduce time demands on athletes and better manage costs.

    Division I Model and Governance Review

    The Knight Commission recently completed its 18-month examination of the Division I model and governance—an examination it called for at its October 24, 2011 meeting.  The Commission’s recommendations were conveyed to the NCAA Board of Directors and NCAA President Mark Emmert in an  August 6 memorandum.

    Promoting Changes in Revenue Distribution Models

    Knight Commission's recommendation to include academic performance as a part of football revenue distribution process takes hold

    In its 2010 report, the Knight Commission introduced a new approach to dividing postseason championship revenues.  In 2012, the Knight Commission continued to promote its concept to consider academic outcomes in the growing financial rewards.  CLICK HERE to read an op-ed on this issue by Knight Commission co-chairs William E. “Brit” Kirwan and R. Gerald Turner that was published by the Chicago Tribune in June 2012.

    The Commission also sent a communication on April 20, 2012 to presidents and conference commissioners recommending a new approach in anticipation of the new football playoff. The communication is accessible HERE. Related media coverage can be read HERE.

    Findings of Research Grants on the State of College Athletics

    Six reports were produced as part of the Knight Commission Research Initiative to enhance the study of intercollegiate athletics policy. Research projects were selected by the Knight Commission through a competitive grant process in 2011. The Commission awarded $100,000 toward the support of these projects. The reports were presented at the Commission’s Oct. 9, 2012 meeting. CLICK HERE to access the reports.

    Latest Tweets

    KnightAthletics In less than 2 weeks, Knight Commission meets on May 19 to discuss impact of changes to #college athlete image rights
    KnightAthletics @KnightAthletics database used in examining trends in #collegesports and academic spending via @StarPress story
    KnightAthletics #highered scholars: Up to $20k to examine costs/benefits of #collegesports federation models or alternate structures: