Saturday, December 20, 2008

NCAA Athletics: Taking The Student Out Of Student Athletes Since 1906

Gotta hand it to the NCAA. They are incredibly tough on their criteria for student athlete eligibility:
According to Beamer, Marshman has already graduated but was taking six credit hours as required by the NCAA and failed to pass.
Way to really challenge student athletes, NCAA officials! Six credits? Hmm what to choose: underwater basket weaving or ballroom dancing? 

Yes, the aforementioned Beamer is Frank, head football coach for Virginia Tech. That excerpt was from this article, which reported that the Hokies may be without three players for their bout against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the FedEx Orange Bowl on New Year's Day. Left guard Nick Marshman (academically ineligible), defensive end Jason Worlids (shoulder injury), and linebacker Brett Warren (torn ACL) will all likely miss the game against Cincy.

Coming from a school that requires all student athletes - football players included - to take at least 12 credits to be eligible, this is truly appalling news. It's like they want to set students to stay longer than 4 years. But why would they want to keep athletes on scholarship for an extra year given the economic implications?

I know many student athletes take summer courses as well, but I cannot understand how they don't finish in 4 years.

For the record, I don't think there is anything wrong with not finishing in 4 years. However, when given the opportunity to take summer courses to offset the course load during season one would expect these so-called student athletes to finish on schedule.

At Notre Dame, football players who apply for a fifth year must first apply and gain admission to one of Notre Dame's graduate programs. All players must finish their undergraduate schooling in 4 years. Moreover, they must also take at least 12 credits while in season.

If the NCAA were really serious about emphasizing the former portion of "student athlete" rather than the latter they might want to take a look at the requirements and standards ND, the Ivies, and many other schools hold their student athletes accountable to.

You have probably seen those commercials promoted by the NCAA with the tag line, "There are over 380,000 NCAA student athletes, and most of us will go pro in something other than sports."  I couldn't agree more with that statement, but it's an absolute joke considering the minimal requirements "enforced" by the NCAA.

Requiring a meager six credits is a disgrace and seems like quite the contradiction based on the above commercial series and NCAA student athletes tag line, doesn't it? The really sad part: some athletes have gotten away with taking less than that minimum...

If you recall, former USC quarterback Matt Leinart apparently took just one course, Ballroom Dancing, during his fifth year at the University of Southern California. Leinart clearly was not concerned about school at all.
A sociology major, Leinart needs two credits to graduate as he begins his fifth year at USC.

"School's done for me -- I'm here to concentrate on football," he said.

Leinart will complete his schooling by taking a class in ballroom dancing with Cameron, a sophomore from Thousand Oaks who plays on USC's women's basketball team.

"We both kind of figured, 'Let's take that.' We'll practice our tango or whatever the heck they do -- the 1-2 step," Leinart said, smiling.
Something is not right in paradise. I highly doubt that Ballroom Dancing at USC is worth six credits, let alone three. A quick academic search on their website revealed that Ballroom Dancing is listed as a club sport.

I wonder what Leinart filled out on his USC admissions application?

The moral of the story? Any attempt by the NCAA purporting its emphasis on student athletes is comical at worst and depressing at best. 

The NCAA should increase its academic requirements for its athletes, else those "going pro in something other than sports" commercials are nothing than a facade.

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