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Letter to Non-BCS University Presidents

June 19, 2003

I am writing this letter to share two documents with you and to request your assistance and support in addressing a few issues critical to the future of Division I-A intercollegiate athletics.

The first document is a copy of an opinion piece I wrote that was published in last Sunday's sports section of The New York Times. This represents my view of the state of Division I-A athletics, influenced by a yearlong study of intercollegiate athletics conducted at Tulane University by our Board. Clearly, progress has been made in recent years in clarifying the role and operation of Division I-A athletics programs, but, in my opinion, much more needs to be done to ensure such programs fit within the framework of the values and goals of higher education.

The second document is a letter I recently sent to 52 of my fellow university presidents whose schools are not part of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). The purpose of this letter is to seek their support in arriving at a consensus on the appropriate manner in which to reform the system that currently governs post-season play in college football. As you know, there is a growing financial disparity in Division I-A athletics that, I believe, is to the ultimate detriment of all our universities. I realize this is a complex and controversial issue to address but I am confident that we, as a community of presidents and chancellors, can find a way to mitigate the circumstances that lead to financial disparities.

In addition to the BCS issue, I also plan to seek my colleagues' support in asking the NCAA to adopt policies that support even higher academic standards and reconsider the appropriateness and cost implications of the new Division I-A membership criteria that will become effective in 2004.

If continual, bold reform of intercollegiate athletics is to happen, it will only be through the efforts of all of us working together. I know that you believe as I do that we, as presidents and chancellors, have a responsibility to ensure that intercollegiate sports operate according to the highest ethical standards and the noblest principles of equity and fair play, and within the values that bind us together as a system of higher education.

I hope that all of us can have an open and collegial dialogue that will lead to real and lasting solutions to improve the culture, economics and operations of Division I-A programs at our universities. I welcome any advice or opinions you would like to share as we undertake our discussions. Please write me at scowen@tulane.edu or call me at (504) 865-5201.



Scott S. Cowen