ACE Roundtable Examines Issues of Academic Integrity and Intercollegiate Athletics
December 13, 2016

​Paper Recommends Practices for Aligning Academic Values, Athletics Programs

Intercollegiate athletics programs should be part of an institutional culture of integrity that stresses the primacy of the academic mission and ensures that student-athletes are first and foremost students in programs of higher education, says a paper released today by ACE.

The paper, The Student-Athlete, Academic Integrity and Intercollegiate Athletics, stems from an April 22, 2016, ACE Roundtable attended by nearly three dozen higher education leaders, including college and university presidents and chancellors, athletic directors and coaches, conference officials, student-athletes and faculty athletics representatives. It was co-chaired by ACE President Molly Corbett Broad and Georgetown University (DC) President John J. DeGioia, chair of the ACE Board of Directors.

Roundtable participants agreed that:

  • Intercollegiate athletics programs at all levels must respect the primacy of the academic enterprise and remain firmly grounded in it.
  • Intercollegiate athletics provides a significant educational opportunity when aligned with the mission of the institution.
    Institutions must enable their student-athletes to have access to the same range and quality of academic pursuits as other students.
  • Academic integrity cannot be compromised by our colleges and universities, or by members of their campus communities.

The paper further frames these issues and recommends a number of best practices that may help presidents better oversee intercollegiate athletics and ensure that the athletic culture is in full alignment with an institution’s primary mission and academic values, based on the following themes:

  • A culture of integrity—A healthy intercollegiate athletics program requires that all members of the campus community understand the importance of academic integrity and the primacy of the academic experience for student-athletes.
  • Integration—Intercollegiate athletics can provide significant and memorable opportunities for shared experiences, not just for the student-athletes, but for the entire institutional community.
  • Management of risk—Campus leaders’ attentiveness to athletics within an institution’s overall enterprise risk management structure is prudent and sensible.

“Among the many issues facing American higher education today, perhaps no other area has received more scrutiny in recent years than intercollegiate athletics, and of particular concern to college and university leaders have been situations involving student-athletes and academic misconduct,” Broad said. “The work of our Roundtable focused on the academic enterprise and the need for balance and clarity. The best practices we identified can be employed by campus leaders as constructive tools to help them engage on this critical issue of ensuring a culture of academic integrity in athletics and providing our student-athletes with every opportunity to be students first.”

The Roundtable was held at the request of the ACE Board of Directors, which comprises a diverse group of college and university presidents and chancellors from across the spectrum of American higher education institutions. Their concern was sparked by much-publicized incidents of student academic fraud involving intercollegiate athletics.

“When our students engage in rigorous athletic competition and challenging academic work, they are given an unparalleled opportunity to explore the fundamental question of what constitutes an authentic life—a life of meaning and purpose,” DeGioia said. “I am deeply grateful to all the members of the Roundtable for their commitment to ensuring our universities create a context of integrity where all of our students can succeed. This report highlights critical issues and provides a valuable framework for colleges and universities to consider as they work to foster a culture of academic achievement and success for students engaged in intercollegiate athletics."

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