Here’s Some Madness All Year Long

Something colleges are pretty good at is keeping student athletes eligible to play sports. They’re also pretty good at graduating athletes. While no-show class scandals like the one unfolding at UNC get the headlines the more pedestrian reality is that student athletes just get a lot of support. That’s good for them, they earn it. But why not provide that same support for first-in-family college students, low-income students, and other students at-risk of not finishing? I take a look at that question in a new U.S. News & World Report column this morning:

As you can tell from the brackets circulating around your office or email inbox, it’s NCAA basketball tournament time. The actual odds of you picking a perfect bracket from the 68 eligible college teams? Experts say 1 in 9.2 quintillion is a conservative estimate. So here’s a better and somewhat counterintuitive bet: College athletes are more likely to graduate from college than students overall. 

Yes, that sounds crazy given the stereotypes and the barrage of college sports scandals, most recently the revelations about University of North Carolina professors running no-show classes for athletes. And yes, there is too much bad behavior in the “amateur” world of big time college sports. Still, here’s the more pedestrian reality for most student athletes: They experience college differently than most students and enjoy a variety of powerful social and academic supports along the way. These helping hands range from help with personal finance management and how to navigate a grocery store (shop on the outside where the fresh food is, stay out of the middle where the processed stuff is) to tutoring, special study labs, and academic coaching.

The entire column is here.  I’d like to hear your feedback, any bracket tips, or betting tips more generally on Twitter @arotherham. And if you were a student athlete and benefited from some of these supports tell me about it!

One Reply to “Here’s Some Madness All Year Long”

  1. As both a former student athlete and the father of a former student athlete, I am very familiar with this topic. Much is left unsaid in this article. Some schools are better at not cheating that others. But, what they all do to one extent or another is direct students to professors who support the team. This means easy grading and minimal requirements. I played water polo, but found myself in an English class with almost all football players. The professor’s grading system was if you merely read the selections and participate in class discussions you would get your GPA as a grade. However, you could get a higher grade if you wrote a paper. In study hall this paper could be written by a tutor for the athlete. At this school it was possible to get through lower division whithout doing much work if you took the classes the football coach recommended. I quickly saw that there was not much advantage to taking these classed so I began taking the classed though to be valuable by real students. That is when, as a sophomore, eventhough I was a starter and lettered as a freshman, quit the team to become a real student. I really needed more time to study and get a part time job.
    The other thing used to keep atheletes on the field is to direct them to easy majors like recreation or, in many cases, believe it or not, business. I have a nephew who recieved a football scholarship to a school in Mississippi. His coach wanted him to major in something like recreation. He wanted to be an engineer, his mother is an engineer. So he took very challenging engineering classes. His coach was not pleased and his playing time suffered. However, he has graduated and has a great well paying job. Last time we corresponded he said he was making more than all of his coaches except the head coach….College athletics is a scam that hurt the players more than anyone else.

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