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Release: Aug. 14, 2000

Coleman joins Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa President Mary Sue Coleman has been appointed to the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, a group that in the 1990s published a series of reports that led to the restructuring of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The group is reconvening to take stock of the current state of college athletics.

The reassembled group, including 19 of the original members and eight new members, including Coleman, will hold its first meeting Aug. 28 at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. After that, the commission will meet Oct. 18 and Nov. 28 to conduct hearings and interviews and to renew the discussion started a decade ago.

As before, the Knight Commission will be co-chaired by William C. Friday, president emeritus of the University of North Carolina, and the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame.

Hodding Carter III, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, said he expects the group to issue a new report sometime in 2001.

The original Knight Commission, an independent panel of 22 leaders from education, business and sports, met from 1990 until its dissolution six years later. In response to concerns about runaway athletic programs overseen by powerful coaches and athletic directors, the Knight Commission issued three reports, championing an agenda built around a central recommendation that college and university presidents should be firmly in control.

At its January 1996 convention, the NCAA adopted in large part the Knight Commission reform slate, based on the commission's "one-plus-three" model, which makes the college president (the "one") responsible for three key aspects of the athletic program: academic integrity, financial integrity and independent certification.

"Now that the model of presidential leadership has been in place for a few years, we want to see how, and if, it is working," said Carter. "But that's just a start, as so much has changed in this landscape since the Commission first met. If anything, the influence of money poses even greater threats than before to the integrity of college sports and the proper role of the student athlete in the system."

Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2000, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation makes national grants in journalism, education and arts and culture. Its fourth program, community initiatives, is concentrated in 26 communities where the Knight brothers published newspapers, but the Foundation is wholly separate from and independent of those newspapers. More information about the foundation is available on the Web at http://www.knightfdn.org/