2010 Archives

Turner calls for national spending cutbacks

Knight Commission co-chair says 'Change will require a national effort'


The following is from the January 12, 2010, edition of Yahoo! Sports. R. Gerald Turner is president of SMU.

SMU President R. Gerald Turner
SMU President R. Gerald Turner

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January 13, 2010

By CHARLES ODUM, AP Sports Writer

ATLANTA (AP)—Some administrators point to the nearly $10 million combined salaries of the head coaches in last week’s BCS championship game as proof college athletics are in need of financial reform.

Others point to the estimated payout of $17.5 million per team as good reason to pay the big salaries to the coaches.

There were no solutions offered Tuesday despite the fact only a reported six Division I athletic programs have made a profit each of the past five years. Most of the administrators did agree the success of the high-profile coaches may only add more momentum to what they called a financial arms race in college athletics. . .

Because university presidents and athletic directors can’t seem to exercise financial restraint when seeking to hire or a keep a top coach, Southern Methodist University president R. Gerald Turner said change must come at a national level.

Turner called on the NCAA to save presidents and athletic directors from themselves.

“Change will require a national effort,” Turner said. “It can’t be done just at the conference level and certainly not at the institutional level.”

Turner is the co-chair of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics which in October released a survey of 95 presidents at major football schools. The survey only defined the problem.

“If the solutions were known, I think we would have had another section on our report,” Turner said.

Turner said increased transparency on spending is “the foundation” for change.

“The commission believes that the first step among the actions that are necessary to put the financial model into some proper perspective involves the transparency surrounding athletic spending,” Turner said. “This has the greatest agreement among university presidents. Eighty percent of them stated that they thought that this was the first step toward some kind of financial reform.”

Turner compared the movement for financial reform to NCAA academic reform 30 years ago.

“Academic reform hit a tipping point when graduation rates were first shared publicly, and we think the same can be true when it comes to greater transparency around financial data of our institutions,” he said.

“The environment is ready for change. We simply need to go about implementing it.”

Turner didn’t identify the six Division I programs that made a profit each of the past five years, but said changes are needed for that list to grow.

“The big task as we move forward is to clearly define how to accomplish fiscal reform in a system where there is great diversity among budgets, great diversity among funding models, institutional practices, state legislatures and other economic considerations and characteristics,” Turner said.

“But the goal of the reform is clear: It has to be something that will work for the betterment of intercollegiate athletics.”

The annual NCAA convention begins Wednesday and continues through Saturday.

Read the full story.

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