The Wall Street Journal’s Rachel Louise Ensign says families can do a lot to increase the amount of financial aid they receive if they behave strategically.
Category Archives: Education
Penn State University agreed to accept sanctions imposed by the NCAA that are described as unprecedented. Equally unprecedented is the scope of regulatory authority asserted by the NCAA over actions that are unrelated to the NCAA’s core mission — preserving fair competition on the athletic field. In today’s news PSU president Rodney Erickson says the NCAA implicitly or explicitly threatened to impose much more severe sanctions if Penn State had refused to give its consent, including a 4-year ban on football. Given such a threat, it’s not clear what option the president had except to agree. Erickson is quoted to that effect:
“We had our backs to the wall on this,” Penn State president Rodney Erickson told the Centre Daily Times of Pennsylvania in an interview later Monday, saying the school accepted the penalties to avoid the so-called “death penalty” that could have resulted in the suspension of the football program for at least one year. “We did what we thought was necessary to save the program.”
“The alternative was really far worse,” Erickson said in the interview with ESPN. “The [death sentence] was a possibility. Various numbers were tossed around, four being the highest. The [death sentence] is traumatic for everyone. It’s traumatic for the student-athletes involved. It’s traumatic for the university. It’s traumatic for the university, particularly smaller ones, kind of like we are here in central Pennsylvania.”
“That’s simply the answer,” Erickson said. “I thought it was better to go down this path than face a multiple-year death penalty.”
Previously we compared the NCAA’s actions to those of the Department of Justice. The NCAA’s exercise of regulatory enforcement authority appears to vastly exceed anything the DOJ could possibly wield. Whereas the DOJ is subject to oversight by federal courts, the NCAA probably is not.
Today the NCAA imposed on Penn State what are being described as unprecedented sanctions. These penalties are unusual for reasons other than their severity because they are far afield from the NCAA’s usual jurisdiction. Normally, loss of post-season bowl appearances, revenues, and scholarships are linked to violations of NCAA rules that establish a common baseline for interscholastic competition. That is, sanctions are intended to both punish and deter efforts of any member school to secure an unfair competitive advantage.
That does not appear to be the case here. Nothing about the Penn State pederasty scandal concerns the pursuit of unfair competitive advantages on the football field. The standards of ethical conduct that Penn State officials violated were established to support other NCAA regulations intended to prevent unfair competitive advantage.
The NCAA is instead exercising the monopoly power it enjoys to regulate interscholastic athletics for purposes heretofore reserved to governments, and then only after conviction in civil or criminal trial in accordance with due process. Penn State has no recourse because it has waived its due process rights and agreed to these penalties, which are recorded in a document labeled a “consent decree.”
It is unusual, to say the least, for a nonprofit organization to exercise quasi-judicial powers of this type when they do not concern activities related to the nonprofit organization’s stated mission.
Regulating How Drop-Out Rates Are Reported
The tip of the iceberg of a persistent information quality problem
Department of Education secretary Margaret Spellings has announced a new regulation to control how states report drop-out rates. Under existing law, the states have the discretion to devise their own formulas. This makes interstate comparisons problematic. It also reflects the states’ interest in devising formulae that under-report actual drop-out rates.
It is an anomaly of the higher education market that there are widespread differences in price both across and within colleges and universities, but historically a student’s choice of major has not been a pricing criterion. Universities are beginning to experiment with differential pricing, though apparently with considerable apprehension.