March 4, 1998


Senators present:  P. Black, D. Boileau, L. Bowen, R. Conti, M. Deshmukh, S. Eagle, E. Elstun, D. Gantz, J. Hale,  D. Kaplan, J. Metcalf, S. Muir, D. Rine, R. Ruhling, J. Sanford, J. Scimecca,  A. Sofer, C. Thomas, E. Thorp, T. Travis, P. Wilkie, S. Zoltek


Senators absent:  A. Berry, E. Blaisten-Barojas, R. Carty, K. Clements, J. Crockett,  M. De Nys, T. Domzal, C. Fuchs, G. Galluzzo, M. Grady, L. Griffiths, A. Merten,  L. Miller, J. O'Connor, E. O'Hara, A. Palkovich, W. Perry, D. Potter, J. Reid, D. Struppa, J. Tangney, A. Taylor,  K. Vaughn, J. Walsh, S. Weinberger


Guests present:  J. Barnhart (English/Communication), K. Bernard (Student Senate), J. Bronchtein (Football Task Force), G. DelMonte (Communication), H. DeRoner (Communication), A. DeSalvo (FOCS), L. Irvine (Provost's Office), S. Jones (Registrar's Office), D. Moore (Communication), M. Ryan (Communication), P. Saleh (FOCS), M. Silverman (Student Government)


I. Call to Order

Chair Esther Elstun called the meeting to order at 3:05pm.


II.  Announcements

 E. Elstun announced the recent death of both parents of Professor Martin De Nys.  May our thoughts and prayers be with him during this difficult time.


 E. Elstun also announced that on March 25 the Board of Visitors Meeting will be dealing with the issue of football at GMU.  She urged all Senators who are able to attend to do so, to show the BOV that the 'eyes of the faculty' are on them.


 Additionally, the Final Reports from both the Football Task Force and Carr Sports Associates are available on reserve in the Johnson Center Library.  A limited number of copies are also available in the Faculty Senate Office for pick-up.  The Reports in the library are reserved under Professor Esther Elstun's name with a class designation of Faculty Senate.


S. Eagle announced that his recent e-mail distribution to Senators was a clarification that Law Professor Michael Krauss had no intention of undercutting GMU state funding by the criticisms included in the Virginia Association of Scholars report.  Professor Eagle stated that the report contains valid criticism that we should not ignore.  And, that Professor Krauss should be given the opportunity to address the Senate to explain and/or defend his position rather than being criticized without being heard.


III.  New Business

On behalf of the Executive Committee, D. Boileau presented the following Resolution on football for consideration.


WHEREAS George Mason University has pressing academic needs that are currently unmet, and an infrastructure that is urgently in need of improvement; and


WHEREAS a significant increase in student fees to fund the introduction of NCAA I-AA football is inconsistent with the Commonwealth's recently adopted long-term tuition freeze; and


WHEREAS the recent random telephone survey of undergraduates found that only a quarter of the respondents are willing to pay the projected $120 per semester increase in student fees to fund an NCAA I-AA football program; and


WHEREAS 30% of full-time faculty responded to the recent WEB survey and only 13% of the respondents favored the introduction of NCAA I-AA football, while 59% opposed it;


THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Faculty Senate of George Mason University opposes the introduction of NCAA I-AA football at this time, and until such time as the aforementioned needs and considerations are adequately addressed.


Discussion of the resolution immediately followed the formal reading. C. Thomas asked for some insight into the conflicting reports of student support for football between the resolutions of the Student Government and the Faculty Senate. D. Kaplan, a member of the Task Force, stated that the Student Government conducted a survey in the Fall which showed student interest and support. However, the survey was conducted at a time when specific information regarding the severity of student fee increases was unavailable. Furthermore, the more recent telephone survey conducted by the Task Force reflects the accurate fee increase.  Based on the telephone survey, a majority of students contacted favored the introduction of football at GMU but only about 25% of students approved of paying the $120 per semester increase.

D. Rine asked for an explanation of the second 'whereas' as stated in the Senate Resolution. D. Boileau responded that while increases in student fees did not technically contradict the statewide tuition freeze, they did add considerable cost to Virginia public higher education that ranks in the top five most expensive nationwide. Further, the political rhetoric in the past gubernatorial race argued heavily on keeping higher education costs constant rather than allowing continued increases. And in that context a fee hike is perceived as a tuition increase by students and parents.

T. Travis expressed support for the resolution and cited a Fairfax Journal article which examined GMU sports. T. Travis said that the support for basketball at GMU should be considered in trying to evaluate the potential backing for football. The Journal article compared attendance figures for Washington area collegiate basketball, GMU averaged just over 3,000 attendees -- the third lowest attendance of the universities examined. The article also examined the difficulty in establishing and maintaining a fan-base for GMU basketball.

S. Muir asked whether or not the Task Force had considered the issue of basketball support in comparison to football. D. Kaplan responded that the Task Force, as well as Carr Sports Associates, did look at attendance claims for football in light of the low attendance figures for basketball in the course of their study. The results were not very positive.

S. Eagle commended the Executive Committee on the resolution, and addressed two points. First, consultants hired to do studies like the one Carr Sports Associates performed are usually procured by people needing a quick response and the results usually reflect the positive opinion and outlook of those people. Second, the student interest in football at GMU must take into consideration the extremely diverse student base including the large number of part-time students, those students with families and jobs and those seeking the best education for their dollar as well as the core group of "traditional" students who seek participation and community spirit. This underscores the significance of only 25% of students being willing to pay the costs of football.

P. Black asked for clarification regarding the first 'whereas' and inquired as to the connection between academic and infrastructure needs and football costs. D. Boileau answered the query by stating that Carr Sports Associates estimated that costs for football would probably be more than expected, and that the BOV has already been informed of this. Boileau continued, saying that fundraising for the university's infrastructure and academic needs would most likely compete with fundraising for football. His experience at Central Michigan University was that when they upgraded their football program many donors switched their giving from academic programs to athletics. Given that GMU already has staff and support shortages, the addition of football will increase the support personnel necessary for athletics and directly take away from the potential support for other needs.

R. Conti commented that members of the College of Nursing and Health Science met and agreed that the infrastructure shortcomings at GMU must be a priority. The possibility of football should be examined more thoroughly and in conjunction with strategies to first address the infrastructure issues.

R. Ruhling summarized the concerns of several professors when identifying M. Spikell's e-mail which enumerated the decreasing amount of scholarship assistance given to academic scholarships in light of the proposed increases in athletic scholarships. The point was made that GMU should be competing with other Virginia schools in academics first and foremost, and in athletics secondarily.  The concern for dwindling available financial assistance for the best and brightest students led to the question how could GMU even be considering the addition of football with scholarships?

The next point of discussion centered on football as a generator of 'big money.' The concern of several Senators was that the contributions from large donors would not help the academic needs of GMU. Football may bring large donors to GMU but they will most likely donate to GMU football, not GMU academics. From this point, it was explained that the $120 per semester increase in student fees is a first year estimate and that it would increase beyond that annually.

J. Metcalf identified that the primary rationalization for football seems to be increased community involvement and spirit. The problem, according to Metcalf, is that there has been no mention of any sort of education based rationalization for football. The Senate Staff Secretary reported that during the two days that the resolution had been available to faculty and other interested parties there had been between 20 and 25 e-mail responses from faculty supporting the resolution. In that same time, there had been no responses opposing the resolution.

S. Muir asked if the Senate was intending to just pass the resolution or will it take on an advocacy role since Senators have spoken so strongly. If the meeting was to present a position to the BOV, how should the Senate proceed to make sure that the Faculty voice is heard?It was suggested that if the resolution were to pass that a motion from the floor instruct the Recording Secretary D. Gantz to forward the resolution to the Rector before the March 25 BOV Meeting.

Discussion turned to the accuracy of the resolution and the numerical data contained within it. D. Kaplan stated that the WEB survey of faculty and staff was statistically invalid, in contrast to the telephone surveys of alumni, students, and Patriot Club members. However, it was pointed out that 30% of full-time faculty responded and were in strong agreement in their opposition to football; this large a segment of the faculty cannot be ignored. The percentage in 'whereas' number four is around 34% rather than the stated 30%. In light of this new information, it was moved and accepted as a friendly amendment that the 30% be replaced by 1/3 in the resolution.

J. Scimecca asked if division I-A was not an option because the resolution only addressed the idea of division I-AA football at GMU. D. Kaplan responded that NCAA I-AA football seems the best option because it allows GMU to play traditional rivals. Additionally, the cost of division I-A football would far exceed the already large estimates being debated for division I-AA. For this reason, division I-A football is not really an option for GMU. S. Jones, another Task Force Member, stated that the NCAA does not allow a new football program to start at division I-A. The program would have to start at division I-AA and move up to I-A through NCAA guidelines.


It was moved that a vote be taken on the approval of the resolution of the Executive Committee to the Faculty Senate as amended.  The resolution passed unanimously.


S. Eagle moved that the Executive Committee deliver the resolution to each member of the Board of Visitors and request the opportunity to make an oral presentation about it at the March BOV Meeting. The motion was approved. The BOV Meeting is scheduled for March 25, however, the Student Affairs Committee Meeting will meet the evening of March 24.


IV.  Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 3:55pm.

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