The reshuffling of traditional sports conferences makes one thing clear: The real authority in college athletics is the almighty dollar.
Big-time coaches bring down more money than anyone on a college campus except maybe the president or a disease-curing superstar scientist.
The best basketball and football players can leave school without a diploma as instant millionaires.
And, yet, we expect university presidents to create an atmosphere in which student-athletes are really students and to hold big-business sports programs to the standards of an academic institution.
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It's a lot to ask and requires university presidents to have unfettered control of athletics departments.
"The president cannot be a figurehead whose leadership applies elsewhere in the university but not in the athletics department," said the Knight Commission in its landmark 1991 report, "Keeping Faith With the Student Athlete."
University of Kentucky trustees should keep that in mind as they reform UK's sports governance.
Under a regulation that trustees gave first reading Tuesday, President Eli Capilouto would appoint the members of a new committee to oversee UK sports and replace the figurehead UK Athletics Association Board.
The majority of the committee would be made up of trustees and there would also be outside members, all to be named by the president.
Sports, especially men's basketball, is a huge part of UK's identity. It's only natural that trustees would take a keen interest in the program. The board was blindsided and unhappy when former President Lee T. Todd Jr. on his way out gave athletics director Mitch Barhart a contract extension and raise.
This upcoming change in governance was put in motion before Capilouto became president when board chairman Britt Brockman appointed a study committee last spring. More recently, Brockman said that oversight of athletics by trustees could help avert NCAA violations in the future.
But that's a doubled-edged sword. Trustee meddling and the wrong kind of trustee involvement has led to NCAA violations at other schools.
We criticized Todd's goodbye present to Barnhart when he still had five years left on his contract. We understand the board's frustration. But the board should be cautious about overreacting and setting the stage for unintended consequences.
As long as the president appoints the new oversight committee, it's consistent with NCAA rules and Knight Commission principles and an improvement over leaving trustees in the dark on a poorly timed extension of the AD's contract.
At the same time, the trustees should make clear that the goal of any governance structure is to solidify the president's control of the sports program.