Category Archives: Academics? Academics.
Boy, if you think I’m cynical about the “let’s do it for the kids’ academics” angle being pitched in some quarters as a justification for reinstating freshman ineligibility, I don’t hold a candle to what’s expressed in this piece. I bring that up because there’s a quote in it worth highlighting:
Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said he believes in the NCAA policy that prohibited freshmen participation before a 1972 reversal.
“I, for one ,as a Big Ten AD, am tired of being used as a minor league for professional sports,” Burke said. “What was right for the NCAA in the first 70 years of its history, maybe we ought to go back and say, ‘What’s changed?’”
Among Big Ten leaders, he said, a consensus exists to “get education back on the proper platform.”
For those of you who buy the sentiment, here’s a question. Prior to 1972, were student-athletes’ collegiate academic performances superior to what they are now?
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby made about $2.5 million in total compensation last year. The amount of money doesn’t really bother me; in the context of what CEOs make these days, that amount doesn’t strike me as being out of line for someone running an operation that’s returning almost $20 million a year to each of his bosses.
But I do have a question. What’s he being paid for? He’s running a sports league. His job requires that he manage the organization of the conference, but, let’s face it, what he’s being paid for is to maximize that revenue stream. That’s what the TV contracts, conference expansion and input into the CFP are all about (okay, maybe he didn’t do such a bang up job in the last department).
You know what Bowlsby isn’t paid for? He’s not paid for academics. He doesn’t teach. He doesn’t set curriculums. He doesn’t decide what priorities a given member school sets in how it allocates its academic budget, even. Nor does he lobby a state government or a board of regents for resources.
He runs a sports league. He cuts deals to make money. That’s basically it.
So why does anyone care what the likes of Bob Bowlsby or Jim Delany has to say about the academic experience of freshman athletes? The answer is, that’s only relevant in so far as how it affects their primary responsibility. It’s a means to an end, nothing more.
I’m sorry, but I can’t help but chuckle about the hope some of you have that this time the schools are serious about academics in pursuing the pipe dream of reinstating freshman ineligibility for football and basketball players. Why is that funny? Because it depends upon believing people like Jim Delany. You know, the guy who once said we’d have a college football playoff over his dead body. The guy who once said that if the NCAA lost the O’Bannon case, the Big Ten would have no choice but to explore turning to a Division III model.
A guy who’s full of shit when the need arises, in other words.
The thing is, he’s not even bothering to bluff this time.
“We’re sort of on the clock, is the way a lot of us look at it,” Delany said in a recent interview with the Big Ten Network. “We’ve got a lot of litigation challenging intercollegiate athletics, we’ve got congressional interest and we have public skepticism. What we want to do is drive the message that education is first, athletics is second, even though these are the two most popular sports commercially.” [Emphasis added.]
Got that? This isn’t about serious academic reform. It’s about optics with the public and having a sales pitch for the courts and the feds. That’s all.
Delany as the front man is pretty amusing, too, when you get down to it.
And yet Delany is also more responsible than any other college athletics figure of the past 30 years in commercializing those sports. He annexed Penn State in the early ’90s, touching off the first massive TV-driven realignment wave. He started the influential and money-printing Big Ten Network. He touched off Realignment Mania II five years ago when the league began hunting for a 12th member that eventually became Nebraska, and then he took it to another degree with his conference’s East Coast push.
You know what would really help Rutgers’ basketball players focus on academics? Not having to travel to Iowa City in the middle of the week for a conference game, as they did last week.
Ah, c’mon. They could always study on the plane, right?
If there’s somebody who tosses out dumb stuff about college football more consistently than Matt Hayes… well, I probably need to know who it is, so I can have a new source to mock.
Hayes riffs off the notion that schools are considering reinstating freshman ineligibility, which he notes isn’t happening, to make the point that what schools are going to do is hold student-athletes accountable in ways going forward that they never have before. Because, you know, gettin’ paid and all.
… Think about that: universities were upset because they were “paying” scholarship money, yet players weren’t playing in their freshmen seasons — so universities weren’t seeing a return on their investment.
But freshman ineligibility isn’t the point. The obvious question is, what’s next?
Where do universities set the bar, and how far do the tentacles reach? In other words, what exactly are the “multiple ideas” and how do they connect with the stated “education first” mantra?
It most certainly is education first if universities decide student athletes must maintain a 2.5 grade point average to be athletically eligible.
It most certainly is education first if universities decide student athletes must take 12 credit hours a semester (roughly four classes) — and (key point) must pass all 12 hours to be eligible the following semester (hello, One and Done).
It most certainly is education first if universities decide student athletes are immediately suspended from all team activities — including games, offseason workouts, access to weight room and training tables, etc. — for one full semester if these academic requirements are not met.
It most certainly is education first if universities decide once players are kicked off a team for behavior issues, they can’t play at another university for one full year — so they can adjust to academic life at their new institution.
BWAHAHAHA!!! Stop it, you’re killin’ me.
You see, schools didn’t actually care about academics when the players, er, student-athletes, were mere amateurs. But now that there’s real money involved, they’re gonna get all serious about it. Because that will help them better realize a “return on their investment”. Uh hunh. I can’t wait to hear Mark Emmert sell that one in court. Or to Nick Saban.
If you feel so strongly about this, Big Ten schools, go right ahead. Don’t wait on the other P5 conferences. I guarantee you’ll never sign a big time basketball recruit again, and you probably won’t do a whole lot better on the football front.
Maybe you could broadcast a freshman academics show on the Big Ten Network. I bet the ratings would be boffo.
I’ve mocked one AD this morning for general dumbassery, so it only seems fair to praise another for coming up with something smart. And this qualifies.
Man, this clicks on so many levels, I hardly know where to start. It walks away from the stupidity of blanket freshman ineligibility and provides a brilliant incentive for high school athletes to put the effort in on their academics.
Alternatively, the five-year eligibility rule is one I think that college athletics is long past accepting.
Honestly, I can’t pick a hole in what Stricklin is suggesting. It’s good for the coaches and it’s good for the kids. Which means it’s got no chance, right?