But so far, there has been no outrage from the White House, no call for a congressional hearing. Yet nothing I can think of would provide greater leverage for getting the NCAA to pass rules that truly put educational and ethical values above its current obsession with building a commercial entertainment empire. Such a congressional hearing is long overdue.
The NCAA and its member institutions are the architects of the “athletic culture” that by NCAA President Mark Emmert’s own admission has become “too big to fail, indeed, too big to even challenge.” As recently as 2006, former NCAA president Myles Brand extolled the virtues of commercialism in collegiate sport in his State of the Association Address. What he did not explain was how to keep the profit-hungry monster from devouring education.
In universities that dominate the race for the college athletics pot of gold, celebrity coaches and their entourage of athletic boosters, alumni, and sports-addicted board members have gained considerable influence over university governance issues, especially in the area of athletic policy. College presidents, who are supposed to run the NCAA, are often more concerned with keeping these constituencies happy than defending academic integrity – or in the case of Penn State, the welfare of children.