Among college sports fans, the National Collegiate Athletics Association is often scrutinized, discussed and criticized. In her spring Nebraska Lecture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Josephine R. "Jo" Potuto will discuss her research on how the NCAA works — or, in some cases, doesn't — and why.
The free public lecture, "The NCAA: Who, What, When, Where, How and Certainly Why," will be at 3:30 p.m. March 28 in the Nebraska Union auditorium, 14th and R streets, with a reception following. The presentation is part of The Nebraska Lectures: Chancellor's Distinguished Lecture Series. For those who can’t attend in person to hear the lecture, participate in the question and answer session, and attend the reception with Potuto, UNL is providing a webstream. The link will be posted on the UNL Office of Research and Economic Development website with viewing instructions.
The NCAA's primary job is to administer athletics competition. But it's the member colleges and universities that set the rules everyone must abide by, a fact that is often overlooked, said Potuto, Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law at UNL. Potuto is the university's faculty athletics representative to the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference.
The NCAA is an example of how process influences decision-making and fairness, especially in large organizations. Although the 100-year-old organization often is viewed as a single organization, it is a "multiple of multiples," Potuto said. Member institutions differ in mission, enrollment size, athletics budget and media attention. The NCAA has three divisions: Divisions I, II and III. Additionally, Division I has three subdivisions, including the Football Bowl Subdivision, made up of schools whose football teams play in post-season bowl games, not an NCAA championship.
Potuto's lecture will discuss institutional responsibility as members of the NCAA as well as the professional and ethical responsibilities of student-athletes and staff members to adhere to the NCAA's standards, even when it's against their interests. An example is reporting potential rule violations and cooperating during a subsequent investigation.
Potuto's expertise is constitutional law, procedural and criminal law, federal jurisdiction and sports law. She has been UNL's faculty athletics representative since 1997 and is president of the 1A Faculty Athletics Representatives, an organization of faculty athletics representatives at Division I institutions in the Football Bowl Subdivision. She has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Constitution on due process in NCAA infractions hearings and chaired the Division I Committee on Infractions. She has been an expert witness on NCAA processes in litigation, frequently gives lectures about the NCAA and has written numerous articles on NCAA processes.
The Nebraska State Bar Association has approved this Nebraska Lecture for continuing legal education credit hours (0.75 regular and 0.25 professional responsibility/ethics).
The Nebraska Lectures, which feature distinguished UNL faculty, are designed for general audiences and provide insights about some of the university's leading research, scholarly and creative activity. Potuto's lecture is sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor, the UNL Research Council and the Office of Research and Economic Development.