Duderstadt: "Big-time college sports have become the 'credit-default swaps' of higher education"

July 23, 2012

President emeritus of the University of Michigan James Duderstadt told Inside Higher Ed that the high-risk, high-reward philosophy that dictates spending by universities on intercollegiate athletics undermines the mission and values of those institutions. Even in light of the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State, the power dynamic between university presidents and their drastically better-compensated coaches is unlikely to change soon, according to the article.

"In a very real sense, big-time college sports have become the 'credit-default swaps' of higher education," Duderstadt said, calling them "poorly understood yet characterized by extremely high risk, driven by excessive compensation for coaches and staff… It must be brought under control."

Duderstadt served as president of the University of Michigan from 1988 to 1996, twice presiding over the hiring of a new head football coach. He remains a professor of science and engineering.

The article, "Money Still Talks," included an Inside Higher Ed survey from last winter that found 87 percent of university presidents do not believe university presidents exercise control of large, revenue-generating intercollegiate athletic programs.