It’s that time of the year when almost everyone gets excited to watch the hired guns at their school student athletes from their favorite school take on the hired guns student athletes from another school in one of college football’s bowl games. It used to be that going to a bowl really meant something as bowl bids were scarce and only the best teams played around New Year’s Day. But now 5-5 teams scramble to get a sixth win and a bowl bid to Memphis, Charlotte, Idaho and a host of other bowls sponsored by forgettable rental car and lawn equipment companies (and of course under a special arrangement if Notre Dame’s team can fog a mirror they get to go to a major bowl).

But it turns out that it’s not only the bowls that have lax standards. As Pete Thamel and Duff Wilson show in an outstanding New York Times story, the NCAA’s efforts to raise academic standards for student athletes are still missing about as often as an Iowa State field goal try:

University High, which has no classes and no educational accreditation, appears to have offered the players little more than a speedy academic makeover.

Thamel and Wilson note that as fast as the NCAA makes a rule change, someone figures out how to exploit it. In this case players for a number of marquee Division I programs.

Update: As a result of the Times story an investigation has begun

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