What’s Next for Binghamton Athletics?

Some faculty at SUNY Binghamton are very troubled about the school’s controversial move to Division I athletics and call for the school to leave Division I. According to an article by Pete Thamel in the New York Times:

A statement signed by 18 faculty members recommended that the faculty senate vote on whether Binghamton should remain in Division I and also admonished the university administration for its public apathy toward the problems concerning the program.

“Withdrawal from membership in Division I is in the interest of this university that aspires to be a ‘premier’ public research institution,” the letter said. “It will send a strong message to [SUNY Chancellor Nancy] Zimpher, our students and alumni that we intend to end the spirit of cover-up that was encouraged from the top, raise our academic standards, and restore BU’s reputation.”

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) set up the three-division system in 1973. Only Division I and II schools offer students athletic scholarships. Schools with Division III athletics are reasonably small and are prohibited from offering sports scholarships to students.

Binghamton, which has 14,000 students, had a Division III athletic program until 1995, when it announced the school was planning to change divisions. Binghamton became a Division II school in 1998 and a Division I school during the 2001-02 academic year.

It’s not really clear why becoming a Division II school again would help Binghamton. Plenty of Division I schools operate academic and athletic programs successfully. It’s not big sports that caused Binghamton corruption; it’s the administration’s attitude toward big sports. The school currently has 21 Division I sports. As far as I can tell, 20 of them operate without scandal.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer