Category Archives: Academics? Academics.

Benign neglect

The University of Texas took a little heat over player academics, and, to his credit, its president decided to commission a study.

A seven-month investigation into the University of Texas at Austin’s student services for athletes has found no evidence of academic misconduct but offered recommendations for improvement.

The university’s president, Gregory L. Fenves, commissioned the investigation following an investigation by The Chronicle last summer that found the university had appeared to allow academically unprepared players to test the limits of its policy on academic integrity.

The report didn’t find any outright fraud or misconduct, but what it did find was pernicious enough and something you’d expect is fairly widespread in college athletics.

The 49-page report does point out that a majority of the university’s football, baseball, and men’s and women’s basketball players — and more than 70 percent of its African-American athletes — were majoring in education. The report encouraged the university to examine why that was happening and to encourage athletes to select a broader range of majors, along with a handful of other recommendations.

How does something like that happen?  Well, like this.

Sure, it can be alleviated.  Assuming the people in the athletic department want it to be alleviated, that is.  Funny how that works.

It’s nice to know “… the National Collegiate Athletic Association was no longer investigating the matter.”  The NCAA is more focused on the Big 12 being able to have a championship game right now, anyway.

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Filed under Academics? Academics.

Because, in the end, it was all about academics.

The NCAA and another day of making it up as they go along.

Next up, it’s either ask the NCAA for a waiver of the 20-hour rule, or just get the school to change its academic schedule.  As long as it’s for the good of the kids, you know…

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Filed under Academics? Academics., BCS/Playoffs, The NCAA

Getting what you pay for: academics and Georgia football

When it comes to Georgia putting its money where its mouth is concerning player academics, there’s a delicious combination of butt-hurt (George Mason University professor of public policy James Finkelstein:  “If the team wins, why shouldn’t the professors get a bonus?”) and ass covering (McGarity told the AJC earlier that the academic targets “are difficult to achieve.”) in this piece about Kirby Smart’s bonus package.

For all the lip service about academics – and you can guess the source of that without breaking much of a sweat…

UGA athletics officials were not available Wednesday, but Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Matt Kempner asked athletic director Greg McGarity earlier what message is conveyed by academics being such a small part of Smart’s potential pay.

It shows “an emphasis on academics is an essential part of the expectations of a head coaches’ responsibility, and there are rewards for going above and beyond what is expected,” McGarity texted.

Helping players do well academically is a “top priority,” he added.

… the reality is that, like so many things under McGarity’s watch, academics for the football program have been in a state of decline.

Former coach Mark Richt’s deal called for a $50,000 academic performance bonus, too. That bonus was based on the football team’s average grade point average matching or besting UGA’s average undergraduate GPA.

Smart’s bonus is tied to a slightly different measure: the team ranking in the top third among SEC schools for graduation rates and academic eligibility measures.

UGA football’s academic performance today is far short of the top third ranking Smart would need to earn the academic bonus. In fact, UGA football’s academic ranking relative to other SEC football teams has actually dropped over time.

Six years ago, UGA had the second highest academic progress ratein the conference. Today, it’s number nine. UGA’s NCAA graduation rate puts it seventh among SEC schools.

That’s what $50,000 gets you these days, I suppose.  Now the article is smart enough to concede that even a huge bonus to a head coach based on player academics wouldn’t necessarily solve the matter (although you’d have to think it might cause more attention to be paid in that direction) and could open up an incentive to cheat.

But no matter.  Because what it really illustrates is that once you get past the threshold of eligibility, academics are low on the priority list.  The people who pushed McGarity to replace Richt don’t care about GPA nearly as much as they do about CFP – and Smart’s bonus package reflects that.

In other words, the Georgia Way isn’t more removed from sausage making than any other big time football program is.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., Georgia Football

What’s your favorite college football hypocrisy?

This one’s mine, I think.

The NCAA’s release of its latest graduation rate figures on Wednesday allowed the association a chance to trumpet further academic progress by Division I college athletes.

It also allowed some coaches and athletics directors to celebrate the triggering of performance bonuses.

At least three Bowl Subdivision football head coaches – including Alabama’s Nick Saban – became set for bonuses of at least $100,000, and several AD’s picked up five-figure sums.

The kids work hard in the classroom and the adults get paid.  Why, exactly?  It’s not like Saban takes the tests or writes a paper.  Saban’s boss, Bill Battle ($40,000 bonus), isn’t personally tutoring Alabama student-athletes.

We know why.  It’s so the schools can point to this and trumpet that they’re really serious about academics.  Funny, but I thought that was their stated mission in the first place.  That their proof is tied to something with a dollar sign just shows what counts these days.

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Filed under Academics? Academics.

Don’t do it for the children.

If there’s anyone in college sports who really ought to keep his mouth shut more than Bob Bowlsby, I’d like to know whom.

Thursday nights, on the other hand…

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Filed under Academics? Academics.

“I have a lot of communication with teachers.”

The next time somebody mentions the sacred role of academics in collegiate football, make sure you bring up Rutgers, where a head football coach can do this…

  • Flood met with the professor off-campus, and contacted the professor through subsequent emails, after he was told by a member of the academic support staff “that he is not to have contact with any faculty member regarding a student’s academic standing.”

  • When the faculty member agreed to “review an additional paper” to possibly help Barnwell’s standing in the class, Flood helped Barnwell by providing “grammatical and minor editorial suggestions to the submitted paper.”

… and walk away with a three-game suspension.

Then again, after seeing this,

“Coach Flood exemplifies our university’s standards and values both on and off the field,” Rutgers President Robert Barchi said last September after executing the extension. “He has put together a strong coaching staff that supports our mission to compete well both in the classroom and on the field.”

… maybe we should wonder why the school is being so tough on him.  Maybe it’s simply that with everything else that’s gone on at Rutgers lately, he’s just gotten lost in the weeds.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., Big Ten Football

“If they change this rule so now I can force a kid to stay with me and be my backup, I think that’s just cruel and unusual.”

The thing people – and by that, I mean certain coaches – tend to forget in blasting kids for “taking advantage” of the graduate transfer rule, is that it takes two to tango.  Players who graduate and look to move on still need a dancing partner.

Or to put it another way, “Pass a well-meaning rule, and schools will find a way to bend it.”

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Filed under Academics? Academics., The NCAA