Category Archives: Academics? Academics.

The best years of their lives

I’m curious to hear what some of you think about this exercise in opening the doors to the sausage factory, via a former Purdue football player.  His conclusion after four years on scholarship:

People will probably ask me what the solution is and I don’t have the answer. Current players can discuss compensation, nameless marketing, coaching ethics, schedules, useless degrees, etc… Former athletes could discuss post-graduate education, company partnerships, and resources to find careers. The possibilities are endless but the first thing is acknowledgment. If I knew what I know now, that Engineering degree looks a lot better.

He wanted an education, but wound up getting a job.  That’s what he signed up for, right?



Filed under Academics? Academics., College Football

Not that anyone cares…

An alert reader sent this bit of news on to me:

Graduation rates for black athletes in football and men’s basketball at Power 5 conference schools are increasing on average, but 40 percent of schools showed declines in such rates during the past two years, according to a new report on racial inequality in college sports.

The report, released Sunday by the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center, shows Power 5 graduation rates for black football and men’s basketball players have increased by an average of 2.5 percent since 2016. Thirty-six schools in Power 5 conferences had increases — by an average of 6.5 percent — led by Kansas State (18 percent), Louisville (18 percent) and Vanderbilt (17 percent). But 40 percent of Power 5 schools have had a decrease in graduation rates among black football and men’s basketball players, with the biggest drops in the past two years occurring at Georgia (15 percent), LSU (11 percent) and Ohio State (11 percent).  [Emphasis added.]

Another point of Bulldog pride.  Note that it’s concentrated.

Several schools among the lowest graduation rates for black football and basketball players — Ohio State, California, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina — have graduation rates for all athletes that are 25 to 35 percentage points higher.

The study runs through the ’16-’17 academic year, so I’m guessing that doesn’t include the recent crop of early departures from the football team for this year’s NFL draft.  In any event, it’s good to see how the Georgia Way adapts with the times.  Perhaps the next issue of McGarity’s Minutes can spend some time on the subject.

If they’re not getting paid, at least student-athletes receive a valuable education as compensation for their athletic contributions to UGA.


Filed under Academics? Academics., Georgia Football

The Auburn Way

Would it surprise you to learn this?

The new batch of data was unambiguous. Half of the students in one major were athletes. One in three black players on Auburn’s football team was enrolled in the program.

Rather than question how this might have happened, the university’s provost instead offered a plan: Create more programs like it.

“The following report points to the need for more majors that have enough elective courses etc.,” Timothy R. Boosinger, the provost at the time, wrote in the late winter of 2015 to G. Jay Gogue, who was then the president. So many athletes concentrated in one major — public administration — can attract controversy, and it did. Offering more programs with similarly flexible requirements would, Boosinger implied, solve the problem.

The provost assured the president that those other programs were in the works, and that he had met with Jay Jacobs, who was then the athletic director, “to discuss the new offerings that are in the pipeline.”

The email and other communications obtained by The Chronicle suggest an openness among Auburn’s academic leaders to tailor a curriculum for the specific benefit of athletes, privately discussing the creation of new majors that would best serve a small but high-profile segment of the student body. These discussions demonstrate the power of athletic interests at universities with big-time sports programs and the quiet ways in which they put pressure on the academic enterprise.

Nah, I didn’t think so.  Well, then, what about this?

The athletics department’s interest in public administration was first reported by The Wall Street Journal in 2015. Faculty committees had voted to discontinue the program after its centrality to the department’s educational mission was questioned. But Auburn kept the major after a lobbying effort from athletics officials, who at one point offered money to keep it afloat.

Okay, no surprise there.

Auburn officials say that no money came from athletics.


And the punchline…

In response to questions from The Chronicle, the university said that the athletics department does not unduly influence curricular decisions.

“The shared governance system at Auburn serves as a type of internal watchdog, guarding against the very type of situation at the center of your questioning,” C. Michael Clardy, a university spokesman, wrote in an email. “We as an institution are committed to the integrity and rigor of our academic programs.”

Well, that’s a relief.


Filed under Academics? Academics., Auburn's Cast of Thousands

“I can understand that if I were a coach, I would think I know the athletes best.”

This Chronicle of Higher Education piece asks an interesting question: “Who Should Oversee Athletes’ Academic Progress?”

Ohio is one in a long line of colleges that have built facilities dedicated solely to providing academic support for athletes. But a group of faculty members is asking that those services be put under the control of an academic unit such as the provost’s office rather than the athletics department. They worry that the current system might cheat athletes out of a top-notch education and could invite scandal.

To me, there would appear to be obvious conflicts of interest in putting a coaching staff in charge of players’ academics.  One is the obvious matter of maintaining academic eligibility.  The other is the fair number of coaching contracts that contain bonuses for meeting certain APR thresholds.

I’m particularly curious to hear from those of you who’ve long argued that academics should be the guiding standard for admissions.  Do you feel the same way about this issue?


Filed under Academics? Academics.

Graduate transfer’s poster boy

I posted the other day about the Miami quarterback whose desire to transfer to another program as a graduate was being blocked to a significant extent by the school, i.e., Mark Richt and the athletic director.

It turns out the blockage is more cringeworthy than you might expect.  In fact, I’m not sure you could draw up a worse example of unfairness if you set out to try.  Consider the specifics:

If it’s really about education in that often-repeated NCAA manifesto that props up major-college athletics, Evan Shirreffs is having a hard time believing it.

Miami’s backup quarterback has fulfilled his obligation — the obligation the NCAA tells us — by getting his Business Finance degree in three years. Not only that, Shirreffs killed it in the classroom with a 3.9 GPA. Not surprising given that he had a 32 ACT score out of Jefferson High in Georgia, where Shirreffs was class valedictorian.

But as a graduate transfer, Shirreffs is leaving Miami with more than a degree. He is carrying a significant burden because he cannot go to the grad school of his choice. To make himself the best person he can be for next 50 or so years of his life, Shirreffs really wants to enroll in an elite MBA program.

But Miami has the leverage in his transfer, even after Shirreffs has fulfilled theobligation.

Miami has granted Shirreffs permission to contact other schools. But it has not granted an exemption to the one-year residency requirement (sitting out) at any ACC school or five nonconference opponents on the 2018 and 2019 schedules.

That list includes DukeVirginiaNorth CarolinaWake Forest and Boston College, all in the ACC, all with some of the finest MBA programs in the country.

In short, this kid really is transferring for the academics.  Toss in that Miami has an established starting quarterback who returns for 2018, add this for a topper…

… Shirreffs is now playing for a coaching staff that didn’t recruit him. Mark Richt replaced Al Golden in 2016, Shirreff’s redshirt freshman year.

… and here’s what you’re left with as a rationale for being a dick to a kid who’s done everything he’s been asked to do as a student-athlete.

AD Blake James told CBS Sports of his desire for “consistency” in denying Shirreffs. He has never released a student in a similar situation, why should he now? Student-athlete beware: The transfer policy is right there in the student-athlete handbook.

“You have 114 other guys on that team who have put in the work and made a commitment,” James said, “and you have someone that’s going to leave with the entire playbook and go to a team you’re going to play. To me, I struggle with that as well.”

Man, I hate that for you.

What an effing travesty.  These people ought to be ashamed of themselves, but it seems pretty clear that they don’t really have a sense of shame.


Filed under Academics? Academics., The NCAA

Check out the big brain on Georgia’s 2018 class.

Sure, all those stars are nice, but you know what else gets Kirby going?  Smarts (see what I did there?).

… Nine guys of the 17 had over a 3.0 core GPA, which was a major emphasis for us in this class. Three of these guys had offers from Ivy League schools, so we are really excited about this class…

… He [Justin Fields] was being offered by Ivy League schools and he chose to go to Georgia. That says a lot about not just about our program, but our school. … We’ve got a top-15 public institution with a business school that is second-to-none in the country and not a lot of people can sell that so when you have that opportunity you have to go after the best.

I wonder how many mommas he’s impressed on the recruiting trail with that pitch.


Filed under Academics? Academics., Georgia Football, Recruiting

“That’s the question I get most: ‘How do you conduct business?'”

Imagine every high-handed, tone deaf thing you can credit to a P5 athletic director.  Then, multiply that by ten.  You may still be short on measuring Tom Jurich’s stint at Louisville.

The only amazing part of his story is that he was allowed to do it for so long.  Although, given the absurdly high pedestal we put organized sports on in this country, maybe it’s not so amazing.


Filed under Academics? Academics., ACC Football, It's Just Bidness