Book by J Douglas Toma & Dennis A. Kramer II
Review by Monica M. Jones
Bogle Academic Center
University of Arkansas

#1 Ranking for this year……are we discussing academic programs or athletic success? Institutional identification, ranking, prestige, tradition, accessibility and financial support are shared concerns for both institutions of higher education and intercollegiate athletics. The book provides a look at current issues impacting intercollegiate athletics from financial advancement, brand identification, athletic success verses institutional rankings, and organizational complexity to the cognitive and affective outcomes for students and multiculturalism. The topics are very broad and provide a good overview of the complexity of issues impacting not only intercollegiate athletics, but also higher education. The information presented in the book provides a context to understand the culture surrounding intercollegiate athletics, as well as both the associated positive and negative perceptions.

The book provides an interesting view of the “front porch of the university” – intercollegiate athletics (p. 13). Intercollegiate athletics is a dynamic entity which exists in the ever changing world  of higher education, which demands increased prestige, notoriety, stronger identification with institution (development opportunities with alumni), and more accountability (p. 20). Learning more about the rationale for more facilities, more accountability measures, organizational structures, and faculty perceptions about intercollegiate athletics is beneficial for advisors in understanding the political landscape of the institution and reasons why some changes, although in the best interest of students, do not always move forward within institutions.

This book is helpful to those seeking to learn more about the history and growing interdependency of intercollegiate athletics and higher education. Individuals involved in advising, administration, student programming, and development, as well as faculty, would benefit from understanding the “historical accident” which is the coupling of sports and higher education (p. 1). Information specific to advisors and implications for advising practice are limited in this book. The book provides more of a comprehensive overview of intercollegiate athletics and the overall impact spectator sports have on institutions of higher education and less about how to work with students competing in sports.  

Overall, the information provided in the book is interesting and provides necessary information and context about intercollegiate athletics. Discussion about the possible advantages and challenges faced by athletic programs is enlightening. Advisors can learn about the various issues surrounding a department and a subset of a student population. The book does not provide information about how to apply this information with students who compete in sport or how to positively impact advising. However, I recommend this book as a source for gaining context about the various issues surrounding intercollegiate athletics and institutions of higher education.

The Uses of Intercollegiate Athletics: Opportunities and challenges for the university (New directions for higher education #148) (2010) Book by J Douglas Toma & Dennis A. Kramer II (Eds.), Review by Monica M. Jones. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass 130pp. $29.00. ISBN # 978-0-470-56539-1
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