Category Archives: Academics? Academics.

Today, in things the NCAA does that make you go hmmm…

If, as the organization claims, the NCAA’s enforcement model “creates no legal duty to prevent NCAA members from violating NCAA rules”, then what’s this all about?  I mean, why even bother with it?

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Jim Delany’s tactical retreat

It’s stunning to think that no one outside the Big Ten has joined Jim Delany’s Merrie Crusade to bring back freshman ineligibility.  I mean, he wrote a 12-page paper on it!  Here’s a guy whose entire career has been devoted to sweet reason and the world just gives him the back of its hand.  If only it was Karl Benson alone he had to convince.

But, alas, such is not the case.  Selling dumb ideas is hard work.  So what do you do when it’s not working?  That’s pretty obvious:  you change the label.

Three months after the league created waves with its reintroduction of debate over a practice eliminated more than 40 years ago, commissioner Jim Delany is backing away from serious talk about his “A Year of Readiness” document.

“That is not a proposal,” Delany said Wednesday. “It may never be a proposal. But is a great pivot point to have this discussion.”

What discussion?  Nobody’s talking to you about freshman ineligibility, Big Jim.

“The most important thing is there be a discussion about how prepared the student is,” Delany said, “how the school accommodates that preparedness and how it all works.

“There’s no simple answer. There’s no one answer. This is not an answer standing by itself. And it’s not ready. It’s not mature enough to be a proposal. If it were, it would be a proposal. Instead, it’s an effort to encourage a discussion about the importance of education. And it’s happening, so for that, we’re happy.”

Well, I’m glad you’re happy, because it sounds like not even everyone in the Big Ten was on board with your proposal pivot point.

“It’s really a discussion piece,” Indiana athletic director Fred Glass said. “I think it’s a good thing. I’m personally not sure I’m a fan of [freshmen ineligibility] ultimately, but I’m a fan of having the conversation. I’m a fan of talking about ways to make sure academics is front and center.

“I think it begs a broader conversation about other ways we could make a student who plays sports have a more college-like experience.”

Meaning the student-athlete isn’t exactly having one now, Fred?  Sounds like another pivot point coming in 3… 2… 1…

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NCAA: pay no attention to the organization behind the curtain if schools misbehave.

The NCAA’s defense in the the UNC academic fraud litigation is flat-out embarrassing.

The NCAA reiterated there’s no “viable legal claim” against the association when schools break NCAA rules. The NCAA wrote that it “did not voluntarily assume a legal duty to ensure the academic integrity of courses offered by its member institutions,” and that its enforcement model “creates no legal duty to prevent NCAA members from violating NCAA rules.”

Which totally explains why Mark Emmert went medieval on Penn State’s ass.

Look, I get that lawyers gotta lawyer and all.  That’s not the NCAA’s problem.  The NCAA’s problem is that it’s fighting so many wars on so many fronts that it’s contradicting itself from court to court.  And that’s not the lawyers’ fault.  It’s the result you get when the client is stubborn to the point of idiocy.

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Doin’ it for the children.

As much as the grand poobahs who run college athletics try to insist the impetus to restrict the graduate transfer rules comes out of a sincere concern for academics, we all know what it’s really about.  Take it away, (who else?) Bob Bowlsby:

Still, that seeming disincentive has not managed to curb the ever-growing list of transfers in men’s basketball in particular. According to 2013 research by Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn, 34.3 percent of top 100 recruits who entered college from 2007-11 wound up transferring at some point in their careers.

“I think it’s a very poor comment on the relationship between the sport of basketball and higher education,” said the Big 12’s Bowlsby.

Told that those numbers mirror the number of transfers among all college students — reported to be around 33 percent — Bowlsby replied, “Those other students aren’t on full scholarship.”

It’s the naked moments of honesty I cherish.

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“The transfer process needs a lot of work.”

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

When it comes to the debate about changing the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule, Humpty … er, Larry Scott wants us to know it’s all about the children:

“There’s so much focus on professionalism and question about whether student-athletes are being exploited; in some cases it feels like it really is only about the athletics (with regard to transfers),” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. “That’s concerning to some of our (administrators).

“If you come at it from the point of view of, ‘Why should you care?’ and your view is student-athletes don’t care about academics, you won’t be persuaded by this, but there’s a lot of data that shows transfer student-athletes don’t do as well. It doesn’t relate to positive outcomes from an academic standpoint. If you don’t care, I won’t persuade you that it matters but people who make decisions on our campus care.”

Only in the world of collegiate athletics can someone claim with a straight face that a kid who graduates is being exploited by graduating.

And then there’s Bob Bowlsby, who doesn’t have this whole “mastering” thing under his belt quite yet.

“It sort of smacks of ‘hired gun,’” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “You wonder about kids leaving their teammates and going to a better offer. For me, I look at it from a player standpoint, and I think of the kid at Eastern Washington (quarterback Vernon Adams) who transferred to Oregon. What message does that send to his teammates that have been sweating and bleeding with him for three years? He gets a better offer and jumps ship. I’m not sure that’s a great message to send to a group of teammates.”

What message does it send when a coach leaves players who have been sweating and bleeding for him for three years?

“That’s true,” Bowlsby acknowledged. “There’s not any doubt about that. I don’t have a lot of experience (with the graduate transfer rule), so I’m going to have to listen.”

Oops.  Good plan, Bob.

It’s hilarious to hear the people who have the least amount invested in the academics side and the most on the athletics side – conference commissioners and coaches – struggle to spin the graduate transfer rule as problematic for student-athletes academically.

Like this, from the concerned Mr. Scott, who tries to explain why it’s now suddenly important to be concerned about whether kids who graduate from college and transfer are progressing towards that postgraduate degree:

… What about players who graduate and stay at their school with immediate eligibility left? Are we to believe they all seriously pursue a graduate degree instead of simply taking enough classes to play until their eligibility expires? Should those players sit if they stay at their school but are not truly progressing toward a graduate degree? Why is it academically OK for those graduates to continue playing but not transfers?

“Um, I don’t have a good answer for you, because I don’t know that we’re tracking that,” the Pac-12’s Scott said.

Yes, this is such a big deal that the schools haven’t even made the effort to figure out how big a deal it is.  That sounds like a real crisis.

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“It’s Robin Hood in reverse.”

This is one helluva story from the University of Cincinnati’s investigative reporting staff (h/t David Hale).

Let’s just say there’s a bit of a disconnect between students and administrators:

Kevin Leugers pays the University of Cincinnati to provide him with a quality education.

The second-year student majoring in marketing and philosophy had no idea officials had quietly funneled tens of millions of dollars from students to the athletic department in recent years to cover the difference between revenue and expenses.

“It seems to be a corruption of education, in all honesty,” says Leugers, a University Honors Program student and Kolodzik Business Scholar. “Athletics is being given priority over education, over the professors, over the students. I just think that’s wrong.”

In 2013, UC officials provided the athletic department with a $21.75 million subsidy, records show, using student fees and money from the school’s general fund, which is primarily funded by tuition. The total subsidy amounts to $1,024 out of the pocket of every full-time undergraduate student on UC’s main campus. The four-year price tag costs each student more than $4,000.

The money represents 20 percent of the $20,000 Leugers plans to borrow to finance his education.

The athletic department’s four-year hidden tax may very well exceed $4,000 per student. In 2014 the subsidy rose to more than $27 million, a 25-percent increase.

Since 2007, University of Cincinnati trustees and administrators have used more than $127 million in student fees and general fund money to subsidize deficits in the athletic department, according to UC’s NCAA Revenue & Expense reports.

Thomas Humes, UC’s board chair and a trustee since 2007, says the $127 million sports subsidy is a necessity to keep pace with other programs.

“I think it is a requirement,” says Humes, a developer and former UC administrator.

Humes says sports are “a good investment for the university as a whole” and that the board decided every dollar given to the athletic department was money well spent.

“There has been a decision that whatever that investment number is that it is a positive investment for the university,” he says. “I don’t view it as a concern.”

It’s easy not to be concerned when you’re not the one being charged, dude.

What’s sad about this isn’t that schools who aren’t among the haves are struggling to keep up with those who are – if charging students fees is what you think you have to do, so be it – it’s hiding the truth from students because you know they’re not likely to agree with your approach.  (Nice touch by the UC president refusing to be interviewed for the article.)

And what’s maddening about this is that the same people who will piously bray about the academic mission they purport to serve are the same ones who, well, pull this bullshit:

Like UC, most Ohio public universities have an open checkbook for sports and a tightfisted approach to academic spending. For example:

• Over the past decade, annual sports spending — and subsidies — at the University of Akron more than doubled. During these years, students paid more than $130 million in athletic fees, records show. In 2014, Akron Athletic Director Tom Wistrcill used $13,000 to purchase bobble-head likenesses of then-President Luis Proenza to express his appreciation to the president for having “ensured that the university provides our student athletes and coaches with first class facilities.” Meanwhile, trustees have raised tuition and slashed academic spending, including the elimination of more than 100 jobs. Wistrcill told CityBeat the university is giving students what they want. “We get institutional support both from the students and from the campus to make our budget work, and we feel like we provide a great part of the student experience to the non-athletes,” he said.

• Miami University is the most expensive four-year public college in the nation, according to a 2014 U.S. Department of Education report. One reason: sports subsidies. In 2013, each full-time undergraduate student provided the athletic department with $1,266, the highest subsidy among Ohio’s eight largest FBS public schools. That same year, the university’s Board of Trustees and President David Hodge were so pleased with the athletic department’s performance they gave Athletic Director David Sayler a five-year extension.

Sayler declined comment for this story. While annual athletic spending increased 44 percent over the past decade, the president and trustees made $50 million in budget cuts outside athletics. The Knight Commission database shows that between 2005 and 2013, inflation-adjusted academic spending — including faculty salaries, department research and student services — for each full-time undergraduate dropped 6 percent at Miami University, a school that advertises itself as “Ohio’s Public Ivy.” Alexa Brown, a third-year art education student, says officials should back up their slogan with action: “If we’re trying to be Ivy League, we should focus more on academics rather than trying to be like the Big Ten.”

• At Bowling Green State University, each full-time undergraduate student paid almost $1,000 to subsidize sports in 2013. Since then, the BGSU Board of Trustees has cut 130 faculty jobs, according to David Jackson, an associate professor of political science and president of the BGSU Faculty Association. The trustees did significantly raise funding in one area ostensibly related to academics: They increased President Mary Ellen Mazey’s compensation 40 percent to $600,149, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“University administrators tend to take care of themselves and make sure that they are very well paid,” Jackson says.

You can sum it up with these two charts, the first on education spending:

and the one that follows, showing athletic subsidies at the same schools, with Cincinnati’s growing almost four-fold over the same period.

The irony here is comparing Jim Delany’s threat about taking the Big Ten down to Division III if student-athletes receive compensation with the reality suggested by these numbers; it looks like there are already plenty of public universities in Ohio that could (and should) make that move.  And the even bigger irony is that damned market:

Freeing students from being forced to pay for intercollegiate athletics is one reason Carolyn Gallo chose Ohio State.

“I definitely looked into it,” says Gallo, now a third-year student majoring in biology. “I had heard of schools charging ridiculous amounts for their athletic programs and I wanted a university where my money was going where I wanted it to — academics.” 

It’s a strange world we live in where the adults have their priorities more out of whack than the kids do.  Read the whole thing.

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Amending the graduate transfer rules, a real feel good story

Now this is how you explain the need for a change that doesn’t benefit student-athletes:

… And last week in Irving, Texas, for the College Football Playoff management committee meetings, there was additional tut-tutting about the scourge of empowered college graduates moving freely from one school to the next.

“I don’t think it fits the core values of intercollegiate athletics,” said Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson.

When asked for specifics on the conflict with core values, Benson said, “It just doesn’t feel right.”

Well, hell.  Who can argue with that kind of logic?

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