Anticipating Collateral Damage

When major college sports sneezes, high school sports usually catches a cold.

Throughout history, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has made changes in response to problems in college sports that have resulted in harm to high school sports.

Who can argue that relieving college coaches from the burden of being members of the instructional faculty did anything but weaken the connection between intercollegiate athletics and the educational mission of the sponsoring institutions? That major college football and men’s basketball coaches are the highest paid employees at many universities demonstrates the disconnection.

Who can argue that the creation of athletic grants in aid – scholarships – did anything but raise the pressures on college programs to win and to recruit hard at the high school level? Who can argue that this process got any more upright and above board when NCAA rules were changed to push most of the recruiting process to non-school venues and corporate concerns?

Who is surprised now that the corruption has moved beyond the NCAA’s ability to control and has resulted in investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and indictments followed by player ineligibilities and coach firings?

The worry now is that the NCAA and the National Basketball Association will strike again. Aiming to solve their problems, they likely will add to ours.

Posted in: Perspective


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About the Author

Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts has been at the helm of the MHSAA as its Executive Director since 1986, implementing programs and overseeing tournament administration and regulations for the Association which boasts 1,500 member schools, 10,000 registered officials and 13,000 head coaches.

During the last 45 years, Roberts has spoken to educator and athletic groups, business leaders and civic groups in almost every state and five Canadian provinces. He is one of the nation's most articulate advocates for educational athletics.

Roberts has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), is in his second term on the board of the National Federation of State High School Associations, and is the first chairman of the NFHS Network board of directors. He has been board president for the Refugee Development Center for nine years, and is a past-chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. He is chair of the board of trustees for the Capital Region Community Foundation for 2018.

He is a 1970 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he played defensive safety for the Ivy League's winningest football team during that span, and he sang in Dartmouth's close harmony vocal group.

His wife, Peggy, has retired from a 30-year career in social services, and is serving as president of the board of the Fenner Nature Conservancy in Lansing.