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Dean’s Fellows host sports panel

| Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In the midst of a growing debate over the labor rights of college athletes, the Dean’s Fellows of the College of Arts and Letters will present the panel discussion “For the Love of the Game? Big Time Sports at Big Time Universities” on Wednesday evening in the Leighton Concert Hall of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.
The panel, which begins at 7 p.m., will focus on the relationship between academics and athletics in a university setting, according to the College of Arts and Letters website.
The panelists are Scott Bearby, General Counsel for the NCAA (Notre Dame class of 1988), Patrick Eilers, a member of the 1988 national championship Notre Dame football team, Melinda Henneberger, a journalist for the National Catholic Reporter and the Washington Post (Notre Dame class of 1980) and Murray Sperber, author of “Shake Down the Thunder: The Creation of Notre Dame Football.”
Senior, student body president emeritus and former member of the varsity men’s fencing team Alex Coccia will moderate the discussion. Coccia said the discussion is an important one to have, especially at Notre Dame.
“At Notre Dame, we pride ourselves in our mission and ability to educate the mind, body and spirit,” he said. “Athletics is an integral component of this mission. However, we also have a responsibility to the well-being of our students in their pursuit of a holistic education, the primary purpose of the institution.”
Coccia said the discussion will cover a wide range of topics, including recent developments in the debate over whether or not college athletes should receive compensation other than scholarships.
“The panelists will discuss a wide range of issues including but not limited to the recent Northwestern-[National Labor Relations Board] decision, a University’s responsibility to its student-athletes, the ideal relationship between academics and athletics and the state of amateurism in college sports,” he said.
Coccia said he was chosen to moderate the discussion because of his unique range of experiences in college athletics, student leadership and academic research.
“I have experience from the perspective of a student-athlete, who has been involved in extracurricular activities beyond the athletic arena and has worked on a variety of outside-the-classroom academic endeavors including thesis research,” he said. “I believe that I have a unique view on both the undeniable power and potential pitfalls of big time athletics at a big time University.”
Coccia said he believes the relationship between academics and athletics at Notre Dame should constantly serve the overall mission of the University.
“I believe that academics and athletics reinforce each other at Notre Dame,” he said. “Athletics must serve as a platform to promote our vision of learning as service to justice.”
The event is free and open to the public, but requires a ticket for admission. Tickets can be reserved at performingarts.nd.edu. Unclaimed will call tickets will be distributed to people waiting on standby 15 minutes prior to the event.

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Jack is a 2016 graduate of Notre Dame, and The Observer's former managing editor. He is currently spending a year living and working for the University in Ireland, and writing columns to keep him busy. For more random thoughts and plenty of news links, follow Jack on Twitter @RooneyReports.

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