Kelly Whiteside of USA Today wrote an interesting article, “Ohio State case casts doubt on power of school presidents”, that explored the issue of presidential control over intercollegiate athletics programs in the context of Ohio State University’s press conference announcing the suspension of head football coach Jim Tressel. During the press conference, university president Gordon Gee “was asked if firing his enormously successful coach ever crossed his mind.” Gee responded, “No, are you kidding me? I’m just hopeful that the coach doesn’t dismiss me.”
What is presidential control? The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics identified presidential control as: “Presidents are accountable for the major elements in the university’s life. The burden of leadership falls on them for the conduct of the institution, whether in the classroom or on the playing field. The president cannot be a figurehead whose leadership applies elsewhere in the university but not in the athletics department.” Essentially, this means presidents and chancellors should ensure the following four elements of institutional control are in place:
• Rules-compliance systems and processes.
• Monitoring and enforcement of rules-compliance systems and processes.
• Rules-education program.
• Commitment to rules-compliance.