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.

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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