Worsening financial conditions in higher education may have awakened a sleeping bear. In 2009, administrators from the University of California Berkeley, whose athletics team mascot is the “Golden Bear,” proposed mandatory employee furloughs, staff layoffs, and elimination of 100 faculty positions (Lederman, 2009; Wieberg, 2009), provoking widespread faculty protests. This announcement by the UC Regents about deep academic budget cuts was followed by one from the Berkeley president, with plans to give the athletic department a loan for a new football stadium. Coupled with annual subsidies from general institutional funds to athletics—totaling $7.4 million in 2008—and forgiveness of an additional $31 million in loans that the administration had given to athletics, these proposals outraged faculty, who responded with an academic senate resolution calling for the Berkeley athletics program to become financially self-sufficient (Lederman, 2009). National reform efforts, led by the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA) and the Drake Group, have tried to rally support for increased faculty oversight of college sports, calling for coordination among university trustees, presidents, athletics departments, and faculty governance groups (COIA, 2007). Yet despite these initiatives and incidents such as the one at Berkeley, most professors are reluctant to make intercollegiate athletics a faculty governance priority (Lawrence, Hendricks, & Ott, 2007).
Lawrence, J. & Ott, M. (2013). Organizational politics and university faculty. Review of Higher Education, 36 (2), 145-178.