What Higher Education Could Learn from the NCAA If Willing to Listen

Travis Smith

Imagine the NCAA as the Department of Education and Congress for intercollegiate athletics. In Higher Ed Athletics, higher education and NCAA policy wonk Travis Smith tackles the intersection of research and policy in higher education through the lens of NCAA governance. Smith specifically focuses on the research infrastructure of the approximate 350 NCAA division one institutions and how it has led to the creation of data-driven standards, measurements, and policy, stemming from an academic reform initiative led by university presidents and chancellors.

Smith gives an inside take on the issues facing higher education through interviews with NCAA executives and university presidents. Higher Ed Athletics is not only an educational piece on the NCAA governance structure, but the case is made as to how this sample size of membership institutions and athletic conferences could be used as a training ground for potential policy changes in higher education in the near and distant future. Straightforward, functional and fair, Higher Ed Athletics is a must-read for institutional presidents, provosts, and higher education experts involved in and tasked with shaping policies that significantly improve student outcomes in higher education. As innovation continues to be a national buzzword across higher education perhaps the industry will consider taking a look at the democratic process of the NCAA that shows collaboration and competition actually can coexist.