The 2009 Robert Maynard Hutchins Award winner was Jon Ericson, a former provost and professor of rhetoric and communication studies at Drake University. Ericson, a passionate believer that big-time college sport is undermining academic integrity, assembled a distinguished group of scholars, authors, and activists at Drake University in 1999, out of which emerged the Drake Group, an organization committed ending corruption in collegiate sport.
As the Drake Group Founder and first president, Ericson led an aggressive campaign for disclosure as the only realistic way to restore academic integrity in collegiate sports. Ericson has written extensively on the misuse of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), often referred to as the Buckley Amendment, arguing that this legislation was meant to protect the privacy of individual students, including college athletes. On the other hand, aggregate data on the academic performance of athletes and other students should be publicly available. In addition, teaching and grading practices of faculty should be open to public scrutiny.
Dr. Ericson feels strongly that faculty, as guardians of the curriculum, have the power to restore academic integrity in college sports. In fact, they are the only group that can do so. His courageous defense of faculty who have stepped up to tell the truth about wide spread corruption in athletic programs would have been supported by Robert Maynard Hutchins. Hutchins was an avid defender of academic freedom and faculty’s moral responsibility to be “truth tellers.”