past event

Future of College Sports: Special Admissions

Race-based preferences during college admissions are gone, jettisoned by the Supreme Court. Now universities are under pressure to drop favorable treatment for donors and children of alumni. But what about recruited athletes, whose admission advantage far outstrips any of the above categories of student? At Harvard, for instance, the chances of getting in move from less than 1% to 86% if coveted by a coach.

Can special admissions for recruited athletes be preserved? Should they? Our panels explore the societal implications of preferred treatment of athletes, from the contributions they make to campus life to the downstream reshaping of the youth sports industry, and considers: What treatment makes sense now?

Watch our conversation with:

  • Kirsten Hextrum, Oregon State University assistant professor, author of “Special Admissions: How College Sports Recruitment Favors White Suburban Athletes”
  • Tyler Ransom, University of Oklahoma associate professor, co-author of study of athlete admissions at Harvard cited in SCOTUS decision on race-based admissions 
  • Richard Southall, College Sports Research Institute director, University of South Carolina
  • Jon Solomon, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program editorial director (moderator)
  • Tom Farrey, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program executive director (moderator)



Future of Sports is a conversation series, hosted by the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program, that helps stakeholders think through key questions shaping the future of our games, the sports industry and its impact on society. Past events examined the future of football, a series on college athlete pay including the government’s role and the future of name, image and likeness rightssports bettingathlete activismcoaching, the U.S. Olympic movement, women’s pro sports, children’s rights in sports, and the future of sports in the climate crisis. Contact Sports & Society Program Editorial Director Jon Solomon at with questions or inquiries.

Thank you to Axios Sports for its support as media partner of the Future of Sports series.

Event information
Thu Aug 3, 2023
12:00pm - 1:00pm EDT
Watch the replay here