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January 30, 2006 - Knight Commission Poll Finds Americans Deeply Concerned About College Sports

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans are deeply concerned about the professionalization of college sports, according to a new poll conducted for the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. Those concerns, including how the pressure to win and generate revenue impact the athletes’ recruitment and subsequent experience, prompted the commission to sponsor an unprecedented Summit on the Collegiate Athlete Experience today at The George Washington University.

In addition to the live presentation, the summit will be webcast free of charge at www.knightcommission.org.

At the summit, Knight Commission members, as well as students, athletics administrators and faculty, will hear from current and former college athletes on topics such as recruiting, the use of performance-enhancing substances, academics, and the role of athletes to impact policy changes. Among the panelists are former college stars like Ruth Riley of the University of Notre Dame and Koren Robinson of North Carolina State University; current standouts like Jemalle Cornelius of the University of Florida and Tye Gunn of Texas Christian University; top-ranked recruits Scottie Reynolds of Herndon (Va.) High School and Myron Rolle of The Hun School in Princeton, N.J.; and former athletes who chaired the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

“Americans are passionate and idealistic about college sports,” said former Michigan State University president Clifton Wharton Jr., vice chairman of the commission. “They believe athletes ought to be subject to the same admissions standards and classroom challenges as their peers, and that college sports are getting professionalized.  We look forward to hearing directly from the athletes about their experiences, and allowing them an opportunity to share their opinions.”

The Census-balanced and representative telephone poll of 502 American adults was conducted for the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics by Widmeyer Research and Polling of Washington, D.C., in mid-December 2005.

Links to: Summit summary and multimedia files; A full list of participants in today’s summit; and an executive summary of the poll.

BACKGROUND: 

The Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics was formed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in October 1989 in response to more than a decade of highly visible scandals in college sports. The goal of the commission was to recommend a reform agenda that emphasized academic values in an arena where commercialization of college sports often overshadowed the underlying goals of higher education.

The commission, which presented a series of recommendations in its groundbreaking 1991 report, Keeping Faith with the Student-Athlete, and again in 2001 in A Call to Action, reconvened in November 2003 to continue its work with a specific effort to involve athletes and other students in discussions about college sports. More information about the commission is available at www.knightcommission.org.