Publication date:15 November 2011
Length of book:216 pages
PublisherPenn State University Press
With a Foreword by Ara ParseghianThe debate over big-time college sports, never far from the front pages, has once again moved from simmering to hot. Congress has been investigating the tax-exempt status of the NCAA in part because of questions about how commercialized college sports contribute to educational values. Athletes are challenging the NCAA on antitrust grounds to get a bigger share of the revenue. Against this backdrop, more faculty are beginning to be concerned about what is happening at their own universities and to the educational system as a whole as rampant commercialism further invades campus life through big-time sports.
A leader among faculty fighting back has been Allen Sack, a co-founder of the Drake Group whose writings and public appearances, including work as an expert witness, have gained him wide recognition as an outspoken advocate for athletic reform. This book brings together in a compelling way both his personal story of life as a highly recruited athlete out of high school and a football player at Notre Dame under legendary coach Ara Parseghian and his fight, since then, as a scholar-activist against what he calls the “academic capitalism” of the system under current NCAA rules.
Sack distinguishes his own position, as an advocate of athletes’ rights, from the reformist stance of NCAA President Myles Brand, who believes that commercialized sport and education can peacefully coexist, and the “intellectual elitist” position of people like William Dowling, who would like to see big-time college sports kicked off campus altogether. It is a battle with high stakes for all concerned, not least the athletes whose exploitation by the system has been the motivating force for Sack’s own campaign, now stretching over several decades.
—Ronald A. Smith, Penn State University, author of Big-Time Football at Harvard, 1905