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Release: April 3, 2000

UI speaker to explain theory of college life as "beer and circus" April 11

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Murray Sperber, an Indiana University professor and leading scholar, speaker and writer on college athletics, will visit the University of Iowa April 10-14 as an Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor. At the UI, he will give a free, public lecture, "Beer and Circus: College Life and College Sports," on Tuesday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. in Lecture Room 1 in Van Allen Hall.

Sperber teaches in the departments of English and American studies at Indiana University, where he specializes in courses on literature and politics, writing, and the social history of sport. He has appeared regularly on regional and national television and radio programs discussing the history of sports in the U.S. and the relationship of sports and higher education in this country.

Sperber's work has received high praise within scholarly circles and professional journalism. Two of his recent books, "Shake Down the Thunder: The Creation of Notre Dame Football," and "College Sports, Inc.: The Athletic Department vs. The University," were nominated for Pulitzer Prizes for non-fiction in 1994 and 1992, respectively.

His new book, "Beer and Circus: The Impact of Bigtime College Sports on College Education," to be published this year by Henry Holt, examines the impact of intercollegiate athletics on undergraduate education, particularly at large public research universities with high-profile football and men's basketball teams playing at the top NCAA level. He writes that many schools, because of their emphasis on research and graduate programs, no longer give a majority of their undergraduates a meaningful education; instead they substitute beer-and-circus, the party scene surrounding college sports events, to keep students happy and their tuition dollars rolling in.

In addition to his public lecture, Sperber will be consulting with faculty members and students and participating in classes during his UI visit.

Sperber's visit to the UI is jointly sponsored by the departments of sociology, American studies, and sport health leisure and physical studies; the School of Journalism and Mass Communication; and the Literature, Science and the Arts Program.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Stephen Wieting in the department of sociology in advance at (319) 335-2502.

Sperber's visit to the UI is supported by the Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorships Program, which brings outstanding scholars to the UI campus for residencies ranging from a few days to an entire academic year. A native of Vinton, Iowa, Beam willed her farm to the UI in 1977. Her only university connection was a relative who graduated from the College of Medicine. Proceeds from the sale of the farm were used to establish the visiting professorships program in her name. Since 1977, hundreds of eminent scholars and scientists have visited the UI campus to give public lectures and to meet with students and faculty.