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Perhaps no sport at American colleges is as popular, or as lucrative, as college football. College football often has a significant impact on the school’s culture. This is especially true for the more successful and prolific football programs, such as Texas A&M or Notre Dame. Football has increasingly become a big money maker for many colleges, with a significant amount of sports revenue coming from their football programs. Within the past two years, the sports channel ESPN made deals with certain teams to gain rights to air more games than usual. Because of this influx of revenue, the duties of coaches have evolved beyond just coaching. In many ways, they became the face of the team. Programs that show positive returns have coaches working hard to fill seats on game day and encourage college alumni to donate to the school. The more successful the football team, the more visibility it is given in the media. This visibility leads to greater awareness of the college or university among the public, and schools with the best football programs can see a greater influx of applications.
The collegiate football programs have an intangible influence within and outside their immediate surroundings. This is mainly seen in their fan base, composed of current students, alumni, staff, faculty, and local businesses. For example, when the University of Alabama won its 15th national championship, the victory was celebrated by an enormous crowd, fire- works, and a parade. Texas A&M University is one example of a football program that gener- ates not only profits but also a sense of loyalty among its fans. Approximately 70,000 football fans pile into Texas A&M’s Kyle Field stadium at every home game to show their support for the team and the university. Table 1 shows the value of some of the most successful college-football programs. These games also help local businesses generate more revenues.
Because of the financial support and widespread influence of the football program, the players, coaches, and football administrators have to deal with a lot of pressure to fundraise, sell tickets, and win games. These pressures open up opportunities for miscon- duct to occur, and it is increasingly important that university administrators and football program officials directly acknowledge opportunities for misconduct. While the univer- sity is ultimately responsible for the operation of each department and the behavior of its employees, it can be difficult for the administrators to have an objective view of incidents that occur, especially when it involves a successful football program that benefits the entire university. The university administrators are often subject to the same pressures as those in the football program to increase the level of revenue and reputation. This led to the devel- opment of a more objective institution to set and enforce rules and standards: the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The NCAA views ethical conduct as a crucial component to a college football program and works to promote leadership and excellence among student–athletes and the universities to which they belong. It also serves to protect the interests of student–athletes, ensure academic excellence, and encourage fair play.
In this case, we provide a brief history of the NCAA and examples of the rules they have regarding college football. We then view how these rules relate to ethics. The next section covers some of the major college football scandals within the past few years, how these scandals were handled by the schools and the NCAA, and the impact of these scan- dals upon the colleges’ communities. It is crucial to note, however, that these scandals are not common to college football as a whole. The majority of football teams receive no NCAA infractions during the year, and those reported are usually minor in nature. Universities have their own set of expectations for student–athletes, including show- ing up on time to practice and behaving responsibly that go above and beyond NCAA rules. However, when NCAA violations occur, universities have a responsibility to report them in a timely manner. Therefore, the next section covers examples of ways universities addressed unethical behavior in their football programs through self-imposed sanctions, which signifies that they consider compliance to be an important component of their football programs. We conclude by analyzing how effective the NCAA appears to be in curbing misconduct and preventing future unethical behavior from occurring. This case should demonstrate that ethics and compliance is just as important to nonprofit organiza- tions and educational institutions as they are for the business world.
ABLE 1 Value of major-conference college-football programs, plus Notre Dame and BYU (in millions)
Rank School 1 Texas
2 Michigan 3 Florida 4 Notre Dame 5 Ohio St. 6 Auburn 7 Georgia 8 Alabama 9 LSU
10 Oklahoma 11 lowa 12 Tennessee 13 Nebraska 14 Arkansas 15 S.Carolina 16 Penn St. 17 Wisconsin 18 Texas A&M
Value $761.7 19
$731.9 20 $599.7 21 $597.4 22 $586.6 23 $508.1 24 $481.8 25 $476.0 26 $471.7 27 $454.7 28 $384.4 29 $364.6 30 $360.1 31 $332.0 32 $311.9 33 $300.8 34 $296.1 35 $278.5 36
Oregon Washington Michigan St. Texas Tech Oklahoma St. Kansas St. Colorado Kentucky Clemson USC
Georgia Tech Virginia Tech Arizona St. West Virginia Florida St. Miami (Fla.) Northwestern Stanford
Value $264.6 37
$259.9 38 $224.8 39 $211.0 40 $209.1 41 $207.1 42 $202.9 43 $202.7 44 $201.8 45 $197.8 46 $188.4 47 $171.5 48 $164.6 49 $159.4 50 $159.0 51 $157.7 52 $148.8 53 $148.7 54
Virginia Purdue N.C. State Indiana lowa St. Minnesota BYU Arizona UCLA Utah Oregon St. Illinois Mississippi Boston College Kansas Connecticut South Florida North Carolina
Value $146.3 55
$145.1 56 $143.0 57 $142.7 58 $140.3 59 $139.7 60 $136.1 61 $126.8 62 $125.8 63 $119.7 64 $118.8 65 $117.3 66 $111.7 67 $110.2 68 $103.4 69 $101.8 $101.2 $99.8
Mississippi St. Maryland California Syracuse Texas Christian Louisville Washington St. Baylor Rutgers
Duke Pittsburgh Vanderbilt Missouri Cincinnati Temple
$99.3 $96.0 $92.6 $91.4 $76
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