Big Ten Network's 'Expert Opinion' series addresses sports issues

Bigger, flashier, pricier sports venues. Skyrocketing coaches' salaries. Student-athletes juggling full-time classes and full-time practice schedules. "Expert Opinion with Graham Spanier," a new series debuting Thursday, July 9, on the Big Ten Network, examines these and other issues in American college sports.

Penn State President Graham Spanier hosts three hour-long shows in July that bring together the perspectives of university presidents, athletic directors, athletic conference commissioners and prominent sports journalists to discuss "The Arms Race in College Sports," "The Selling of College Sports" and "The College Student as Athlete."

"Expert Opinion" panelists on the July 9 show, the first in the series, tackle "The Arms Race in College Sports" -- the pressure schools race to add state-of-the-art facilities, increase their athletic budgets and recruit premium coaches. Spanier hosts Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, Northwestern University President Henry Bienen and Chicago Tribune Editorial Board Member Avani Patel.

On July 16 Spanier is joined by Malcolm Moran, Penn State's Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society and previously a sports journalist with USA Today, The New York Times, Newsday and the Chicago Tribune; along with Richard Herman, chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Andy Geiger, former athletic director at Ohio State University, the University of Maryland and Stanford. The panel will discuss "The Selling of College Sports," including such topics as whether student-athletes should be compensated for the use of their names and likenesses in sports merchandise from jerseys to video games.

In the third show, scheduled to air on July 23, Spanier and his guests explore "The College Student as Athlete." Experts Brad Traviolia, deputy commissioner of the Big Ten; Melissa Isaacson, author and former Chicago Tribune reporter; and Morgan Burke, Purdue University athletic director, weigh student-athletes' pressures, both on and off the field, ranging from maintaining a minimum grade point average alongside a demanding practice schedule to receiving the same educational experience as non-athletes.

"Expert Opinion" is scheduled to air at 7 p.m. Eastern time on three consecutive Thursday nights in July on the Big Ten Network.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010