(01-03-2013 09:19 PM)Buc66 Wrote: How important are academics in athletic conference affiliation? I mean academics to be, in addition to quality and rigor, programs of study and degrees offered. Not many state regional universities have ETSU's lineup of colleges and schools with their accompanying undergraduate and graduate degrees backed by the full accreditation of all eligible programs. It sometimes seems that ETSU has not received its due for its academic accomplishments against rather significant odds over the years. That said, are ETSU's academic assets a plus for Dr Noland as he seeks a different athletic conference for ETSU?
I think we can basically outline how Academics impact conference invitations/affiliation with A) Perception and B) Admissions, C) Retention and Graduation
The people who vote for conference invitations are Presidents with the advice of their Faculty Athletic Reps and the AD. Most Presidents come from the tight little world of Academia. They can be impacted by "reputation," "rankings," and the academic nature of an institution when it comes to conference affiliation. The majority of that "nature" comes from the rankings that we just saw, which can be quite flawed in reality. I think I remember a really deep discussion about this whole idea back on the old SoConHoops page years ago, when we still had several professors available to give their take on things.
In reality, I (and from experience) see Admissions and Graduation/Retention as something that plays a more important role in how a group of Presidents in a conference will look at another school that wants admitted.
If a conference such as the SoCon, which is dominated by small, privates, when the "academics" of a potential member comes up, it's about the admission standards more so than what accredited academic departments a University might have. The less "selective" and the higher the ratio of applications/acceptance, the less desirable a University might be to a group of schools that have higher admissions and retention/graduation.
In other words, will that school be able to recruit athletes that we can't recruit and thus creating an imbalance on the Athletic playing field? That's were the influence of an AD and major sport coaches would come into play, with a much higher impact. I hear that argument all the time from coaches, as they complain about losing a recruit that can't get in under some really loose admissions standards BUT the student is NCAA-eligible (the don't realize how low the initial eligibility standards have been).
So, in my opinion, for an ETSU... the admissions standards and the retention/graduation rate would impact things more than "Academic Reputation."
Money and resources are also a huge factor now, obviously, in the desire to JOIN a conference. Membership invitations to a BCS/FBS conference don't go out to broke school's but the reality is that they don't go out to school's that aren't in impactful media markets with the ability to help generate resources. Hence the limitations that ASU and Georgia Southern are facing. BUT, one of the major things for a SoCon/OVC type conference (notice I don't include the AShame because frankly, they just need a pulse, evidently) will be the Academics in terms of Admissions/Retention/Graduation "reputation"... and the ability to "travel" well and sell tickets at your place.
Frankly, ETSU is in a better position for an FBS-affiliation than other school's with similar "profiles" ... gee... if we'd only had the one thing that those conferences were looking for!!
Can you imagine where we could have been in the conference realignments if we'd had football, had a leadership core that used the constant increases in student fees to fund TOP TIER sports while brining the lower tier sports to higher levels, and had some vision 9 years ago instead?? And here we are...
TITLE IX: I'll add this here because I know I saw it somewhere recently but I didn't respond.
Title IX should not be an issue for ETSU when they add a football program. As long as there is no scholarship money or funding removed from the established women's sports and they ensure that resources are increased to meet the demand of more men being added (adding academic resources, training room, SID, etc) so that the women aren't shoved to the back of the line for those things, there should be NO NEED to add a sport at this point as we add football. ETSU can document two prongs of "test": history of progress and support of women's programs and accomodation of the interests and abilities of the student body.
Anyone who says it's all about "head count" is coming from a very narrowed view of Title IX compliance and going more for the "Gender Equity" philosophy, not the law. ETSU as an institution has a major gender gap with women being the significant majority of enrollment. Adding football can be seen, just as it is a many school's, as an opportunity to bring Gender Balance and an enrollment managment tool. Until ETSU gets back on track with Athletics at the Division I level, it might be time to look at the other prongs for compliance until a future time when there might actually be a demand on campus for women's rugby, lacrosse, or field hockey.