Category Archives: Academics? Academics.

Does amateurism in defense of academics make any sense?

You tell me.

According to a report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, between 70 and 80 percent of college students are active in the labor market. Roughly 40 percent of undergraduates work at least 30 hours a week, while 25 percent of all students enrolled on a full-time basis also work full time. Some of those employees—a cohort that once included yours truly, who worked at the Georgetown bookstore—even get paid for campus jobs.

The NCAA’s member schools don’t prohibit any of those students from making money. Because that would be utterly ridiculous. Why, Grenardo asks, are athletes treated differently? Because they’re especially good at catching footballs?

During the O’Bannon trial, Stanford University athletic director and amateurism advocate Bernard Muir was questioned by players’ attorney Renae Steiner about computer-science students at his school earning income from software they developed in class, a pretty fair analogue for playing revenue sports. It did not go well:

Steiner: “Are you aware that some of those students at Stanford were making $3,000 a day on their apps?”

Muir: “[I] was not aware of that.”

Steiner: “And they were making more than the professor teaching them in that class?”

Muir: “Okay. I will take your word for it.”

Steiner: “Okay. Do you know if those students are no longer integrated into the academic community at Stanford?”

Muir: “I would assume that they are.”

“It’s crazy, the idea that if we put $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 into the pockets of these athletes who don’t have a lot of money, who knows what they will do with it,” Grenardo says. “Even at my law school, some of my students have better cars than me. Nobody says about kids who are affluent, ‘Oh my God, we need to rein this in.'”

Last year, Emmert took his employer’s logic to its dopiest possible conclusion and claimed that paying college athletes would make them no longer students at all, presumably because simultaneously (a) playing campus sports, (b) being paid for playing that sport, and (c) being a college student would require a heretofore unknown quantum state.

Push come to shove, and even the NCAA isn’t buying what Emmert’s shoveling.

Does the college sports establishment even believe its own malarkey? Not entirely. University of Notre Dame president John Jenkins told the New York Times that permitting player pay would be an “Armageddon” that “does some violence to [the] educational relationship” between athletes and their schools—but school athletic director Jack Swarbrick told VICE Sports at a campus sports reform meeting in Washington, D.C., that he doesn’t think there’s a link between amateurism and education. The NCAA touted education as its raison d’être in the O’Bannon case, but responded to McCants and Ramsay’s lawsuit over the North Carolina scandal by arguing in federal court that it has no legal duty to make sure said education is actually delivered.

“This is the underlying lie of the NCAA,” says Michael Hausfeld, the Washington, D.C.-based antitrust attorney who headed the O’Bannon case and is also the lead litigator on McCants and Ramsay’s suit. “Up until we filed the North Carolina case, you had the NCAA saying they are there for the welfare of athletes as students. Now they say they have nothing to do with that. You can’t be more of a hypocrite.”

Eh, I don’t know about that.

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The SEC, where academics just mean more

In fact, so much more that the conference keeps changing the standards for the graduate transfer rule.

The biggest topic of the week was the league’s stringent graduate transfer rule that prevents schools that have previously taken graduate transfers who did not meet eligibility expectations at the end of each term from accepting more graduate transfers for a period of three years.

Legislation approved Friday by the presidents and chancellor reduced that period to a year, which clears the way for Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire to immediately join Florida’s team as a graduate transfer.

“We (the SEC) are the unique as it relates to having requirements around our graduate transfers,” Sankey said. “It’s been a maturation process. We started at five years, then to three years and now to one year.”

You can almost sense his chest swelled with pride as he delivered that.

Meanwhile, the league’s coaches are extraordinarily concerned about the academics of their member institutions.

The presidents and chancellors took no action on changing the rule that requires a waiver from the commissioner on intraconference transfers. The league’s football and basketball coaches wanted a rule to disallow such transfers with no waiver available.

Obviously, the lesson to be taken from the Maurice Smith situation is that a player transfer from one SEC program to another is disastrous for the player.  I mean, there couldn’t be any other motivation for the coaches’ stand, could there?

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“No comment” as a winning strategy

Hoisting the NCAA on its own petard, a job so easy, even a cave man could do it.

For years, the NCAA didn’t want to wade into the murky waters of determining what is or isn’t academically sound. It left such determinations up to accrediting agencies. (It should be noted that in this case, North Carolina was placed on probation for a year by its accrediting agency.) This is why the NCAA did nothing about Tennessee’s Chair Stacking 101 classes in the late 1990s or Auburn’s directed reading classes in the early 2000s. Every large university has easy classes available to everyone, and most major athletic departments cluster revenue-sport athletes into easy majors. These cases were ignored for a reasons: The NCAA didn’t have clear rules in place to enforce them. In fact, if North Carolina’s attorneys really want to twist the knife during the COI hearing, they’ll quote what attorneys representing the NCAA wrote in a 2015 response to a lawsuit brought by former North Carolina athletes regarding the quality of the education they received. According to that response, the NCAA has no legal responsibility “to ensure the academic integrity of the courses offered to student-athletes at its member institutions.”

Which is why Stacey Osburn may be the smartest person working at the NCAA.

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For the romantics out there…

I post this entirely snark-free.  If you’re looking for a D-1 school that’s not offering itself as a stepping stone to professional football, you might want to think about rooting for the Air Force Academy.

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Surrender. But don’t give yourself away.

Looks like one of Greg Sankey’s noble stands is about to bite the proverbial dust.

Malik Zaire has been a popular topic for Gator Nation this offseason.

The former Notre Dame quarterback has interest in joining the Florida football program as a graduate transfer, but for now he is on standby.

An SEC rule instituted in Jan. 2016 prevents UF from taking Zaire because former grad trnasfer Mason Halter and Antony Harrell failed to meet academic requirements in 2015.

However, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in December that the league could alter the rule at its spring meetings in late May. Sankey reiterated those comments Friday on the Pat Dooley Show on ESPN Gainesville 98. 1 FM.

“It will come up,” Sankey said. “I do think we need to look where we’ve been restrictive in the past because of the absence of national rules and look at reducing some of those restrictions. I’m one who would position it as interest in freeing things up without just removing every restraint, because I think the restraints have been healthy for us.”

At this time, the SEC is the only conference with a grad transfer rule in place. Sankey said he’s disappointed that the NCAA has not taken a harder look at the issue.

“There’s this notion that they’ve graduated, so let them just have freedom,” Sankey said. “I don’t necessarily argue with that, but there’s nothing in the context of intercollegiate athletics that says, ‘Oh, just go play games.’ We never say that.”

“I look at it now and say that we’ve adjusted to realities, and we likely can pull back on some of those internal policies. … I don’t want us to just walk away. I do think it’s a good conversation to adjust because we are performing (better academically).”

Eh, what’s the big deal about graduation, anyway?  Besides, now that you’ve adjusted to realities (Translation:  the other conferences are taking the kids we’re having to turn away because of our rule), the spin becomes rather obvious.

There will be another hill to die on retreat from soon enough.

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Teaching the controversy… or not

An alert reader passed this little nugget on to me:

More than 40 members of the history department objected to administrative interference in Professor Jay Smith’s History 383 course on the history of big-time college sports and the rights of athletes in an open statement sent to the deans of the College of Arts and Sciences Friday.

The faculty said that despite media reports that department chairperson Fitz Brundage made the decision to cancel Smith’s class on his own, they believe Brundage was actually under pressure from the College of Arts and Sciences to prevent students from learning about the University’s recent scandals.

“In the absence of any other credible explanation, we believe that the College took this action to block broader understanding of the recent scandals in UNC’s major intercollegiate athletic programs and other violations of legal, moral, and academic standards in the history of modern college athletics,” they said.

The faculty said Smith is a recognized authority on the subject of his course and was “clearly…singled out for unprecedented and adverse scrutiny.”

Obviously, if there isn’t a class on the subject, then none of the students will ever know it happened.  Sheesh.

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Greg. Sankey. Will. Not. Stand. Down.

No word on whether he laughed maniacally while signing this letter, though.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., ACC Football, SEC Football, The NCAA