May 7, 2003

Good Morning:

In the two weeks since I first wrote you about the board's review of Tulane Athletics a lot has happened. Before I begin, however, I would like to personally thank all those who we've met with and heard from for their understanding and thoughtful feedback. We have received hundreds of e-mails, phone calls, and letters on this subject. In an effort to share the conversation with everyone, to include as many opinions as possible, and to keep you up-to-date, the university has established a web site at This site contains important information that will help increase your awareness of the complexity of this issue.

Here's where we are in the process: the Ad Hoc Committee has yet to finalize its report to the board. When the board completes its review of the Ad Hoc Committee's findings, and all other input we have received, the board and I will publicly discuss the process and outcomes. In the last few days, Yvette Jones, Senior Vice President for External Affairs, and I have held briefing sessions with several external groups, including the Louisiana Council, the Liberal Arts and Sciences Advisory Board and the Tulane Alumni Association Board, including many of the chapter presidents.

Here is a summary of the key points made at those sessions:

  • Tulane University operates a model Division I-A program in terms of the quality and performance of its student-athletes and teams. Our coaches and staff embrace the academic values of the institution and the role athletics should play at Tulane.
  • We are exceptionally proud of our student-athletes, coaches and staff. On-the-field performance has been impressive; Tulane's student-athletes lead the conference in grades and are among the national leaders in graduation rates.
  • The timing of this review was envisioned several years ago when the university initiated its comprehensive academic planning process.
  • This review of athletics must be at the level of the Tulane Board because it is the governing body of the university and the only group who has access to and oversees all aspects of the institution. In its decision-making process, the board represents the long-term interests of all of the university's constituents.
  • The Ad Hoc Committee of the Board has focused most of its efforts on understanding how the changing requirements (Bowl Championship Series, NCAA regulation, Title IX and the commercialization of intercollegiate athletics) of Division I-A have, and may in the future, impact Tulane's ability to achieve its academic mission and goals given its resources. These changing requirements have resulted in the athletics department's expenses exceeding its revenues by $5 million dollars per year, excluding scholarship costs and an existing allowable subsidy.
  • Additionally, the economic model driving Division I-A athletics puts Tulane at a disadvantage in comparison to schools such as Duke, Vanderbilt, Stanford, and Northwestern, which belong to conferences affiliated with the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and have more resources, in terms of endowment income, to fund all parts of the university.

A number of academic institutions are currently in a similar situation as Tulane University and need to evaluate their intercollegiate athletics program. In the last few weeks alone, a number of universities have announced similar reviews or have decided upon changes to their athletics programs.

As the university continues this process of review and evaluation, I can assure you that we are looking at every aspect of the situation. This is a sensitive and complex issue that touches all parts of the university. Judging from the correspondence I have received, which I believe represents every possible viewpoint of how Tulane University should proceed, I see how seriously and thoughtfully our community is engaging in this discussion.

In order to hear even more feedback, the university will hold briefings for faculty, staff, students, alumni and other interested parties. We have scheduled two meetings in the Dixon Annex on campus. The first meeting is Friday, May 9th at noon. The second meeting is Monday, May 12th at 5 p.m.

Today, Tulane University is a much stronger academic and nationally known institution than at any time in its history. Yet, athletics is facing conditions, many of which are beyond its control, that are constantly changing. The board and administration's task is to analyze and understand all of these changes and to decide what is in the best long-term interests of Tulane University in the context of its mission and aspirations. This is the ultimate goal we must keep in mind throughout our deliberations.

I hope to see you at the meetings,


Office of the President Emeritus, 1555 Poydras St, Suite 700, New Orleans, LA 70112 504-274-3638