Confessions of a Spoilsport

My Life and Hard Times Fighting Sports Corruption at an Old Eastern University

By (author) William C. Dowling

Paperback - £20.95

Publication date:

20 June 2013

Length of book:

216 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271058795

In 1998, Milton Friedman’s statement drew national attention to Rutgers 1000, a campaign in which students, faculty, and alumni were resisting the takeover of their university by commercialized Division I-A athletics. Subsequently, the movement received extensive coverage in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Sports Illustrated, and other publications.

Today, “big-time” college athletics remains a hotly debated issue at Rutgers. Why did an old eastern university that had long competed against such institutions as Colgate, Columbia, Lafayette, and Princeton, choose, by joining the Big East conference in 1994, to plunge into the world of such TV-revenue-driven extravaganzas as “March Madness” and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl? What is the moral for universities where big-time college sports have already become the primary source of institutional identity?

Confessions of a Spoilsport is the story of an English professor who, having seen the University of New Mexico sink academically in the period of a major basketball scandal, was galvanized into action when Rutgers joined the Big East. It is also the story of the Rutgers 1000 students and alumni who set out against enormous odds to resist the decline of their university—eviscerated academic programs, cancellation of minor sports, loss of the “best and brightest” in-state students to the nearby College of New Jersey—while tens of millions of dollars were being lavished on Division I-A athletics. Ultimately, however, the story of Rutgers 1000 is what the New York Times called it when Milton Friedman issued his ringing statement: a struggle for the soul of a major university.

“Read this book if you care about both sports and undergraduate education. . . . Dowling tells a sad and very personal story of the failed struggle at Rutgers, but readers at other institutions will have no difficulty in substituting the names of their own presidents and athletic directors. Dowling is not against athletics. He is for education.”

—Stanley N. Katz, Princeton University