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What Is Winning Worth? Experts Debate Future Of College Sports

Posted October 28, 2003

— Multimillion-dollar television deals, shoe contracts and business sponsorships. College athletics is outgrowing sports and becoming big business.

A panel of experts gathered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Monday evening to debate the future of college football.

A lively exchange between

News And Observer

sports columnist Caulton Tudor and UNC-Chapel Hill athletic director Dick Baddour captured the essence of the football debate.

"I'd like to see a situation where we have students who play football rather than football players who are enrolled in college," Tudor said.

"As soon as the team is not winning, your paper is one of the first ones to jump on the coach and jump on the players," Baddour said.

With more money and more media, comes more pressure to win.

College athletics -- especially football -- face a future in which schools, coaches and players must decide what winning is worth.

"We've had instances where universities in this country were winning national championships that graduated zero," said William Friday, who served as president of the University of North Carolina for 30 years.

Friday joined the panel of experts in an academic discussion about college athletics.

He said corporations and TV networks are pumping millions into sports programs, giving them control, which in turn, puts the emphasis on the companies' bottom line -- and not the school.

Friday said it cannot go on like this or college sports will collapse.

"The issue here is integrity, the integrity of the university of itself," he said.

Although no major solutions were offered, Friday suggested schools start by giving less control to television networks.

All of the panelists agreed that paying college athletes like professionals is a bad idea.


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