Apr. 8, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Murray Sperber, who has written extensively for decades about problems related to athletics at U.S. colleges, will be awarded the Drake Group’s highest honor, the Robert Maynard Hutchins Award on April 22.
Sperber, an outspoken critic of basketball coach Bobby Knight and an ardent defender of academic integrity for which he received criticism and death threats from fans, will be presented with the award at the Columbia Marriott Hotel at a breakfast hosted by the Drake Group, which is based at the University of New Haven.
“Murray has demonstrated courageous behavior in standing up for values that form the core of America’s universities,” said Gerry Gurney, president of the Drake Group. “It is the mission of the Drake Group to support people like Murray and to let them know they do not stand alone.”
The Drake Group awards the Maynard Award to college faculty or staff who take a courageous stand to defend academic integrity at their institutions, often risking job security and becoming targets of direct and indirect pressure.
It is named for Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago from 1929 to 1951. He opposed rampant commercialization of college sport, which he said undermined the core of higher learning. He died in 1977.
Sperber, a visiting professor in the Cultural Studies of Sport in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California at Berkeley, is a professor emeritus of English and American studies at Indiana University, Bloomington.
Sperber authored seven books, including two “College Sports Inc: The Athletic Department vs. The University,” and “Beer and Circus: How Big-time College Sports is Crippling Undergraduate Education,” that focused on issues such as the myths surrounding college sports and examines how college sports are becoming very corporate. Sports Illustrated placed Beer and Circus on its list of 100 Best Books of all Time.
Sperber is also known for his book “Shake Down the Thunder: The Creation of Notre Dame Football,” which was named by Sports Illustrated as the second best sports history book of the 20th century.
The Drake Group is based at the University of New Haven, a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 the university enrolls approximately 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates.