Vanderbilt University will host a meeting of faculty leaders from each of the 12 Southeastern Conference school May 1-2 to focus on the role of academics in college athletics, school officials announced Thursday.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and NCAA President Myles Brand are also scheduled to attend the meeting, the first of its kind for SEC faculty representatives. Also scheduled to address the group is Vanderbilt Director of Athletics Todd Turner, who also serves as chairman of an NCAA task force on improving academic performance in college athletics.
The meeting comes six months after a similar gathering of faculty leaders from the Big Ten conference. Virginia Shepherd, president of the Vanderbilt Faculty Senate, said SEC faculty members hoped to follow the lead of their counterparts in the Big Ten in ensuring faculty involvement in any academic reform measures taken by the NCAA.
"The response among the faculty of SEC schools has been overwhelmingly in favor of such an effort," said Shepherd. "Representatives are coming from all of the SEC schools, including faculty senate presidents, faculty athletic committee chairs and other faculty leaders. We hope that this signals not only the beginning of productive discussions of athletics and academics on our campuses, but also of a new era of cooperation among our faculty governance leaders."
Shepherd said the two-day gathering will focus primarily on ongoing efforts to encourage strong academic performance in athletics programs. The SEC has seen its reputation stung recently by reports of low graduation rates at member institutions, as well as reported academic scandals and recent findings of academic fraud at the University of Georgia.