If you went to a school with a good athletics program, you were likely aware of the fact that athletes — particularly football and basketball players — rarely went to class. Unless you were kind of a jerk, you probably didn’t care. Your team’s star quarterback had other things to worry about besides what was coming up on the test for “Shapes Of Shapes 101” or “Basic Human Grunting 102,” and if you were a sports fan, you’d prefer that he spend time studying zone blitzes so you would have something to cheer for come Saturday. It’s just a part of college life.
So Part 2 of Sports Illustrated’s massive investigation into the Oklahoma State football program, which focuses on academics, will end up being the least explosive of the five segments (“Sex” sounds like a good one, and “Money,” if the report is true, is quite damning). Because the most widely known lie in all of college sports is that student-athletes are anything close to students.
If you don’t have time to read today’s segment, here’s a video featuring former OSU football players talking about academics violations:
Poll a random assortment of college students and ask them whether they would go to class if they knew they would still receive a good grade without doing so. My guess is that, those who intrinsically love learning aside, a good portion of the respondents would prefer to skip class. And most college students don’t have the added responsibilities that college athletes do.
The NCAA limits the number of hours that a student-athlete can spend on intercollegiate athletics to four a day. That doesn’t include the time needed to travel to competitions, time spent in the training room, voluntary hours taken for weight training, attending fund-raising activities or doing any of the other things that are required (but not, according to the NCAA, “required”) to be a good athlete and part of the program.
So student-athletes are expected to dedicated 20+ hours a week to being an unpaid football player, not be able to afford their own meals, have a social life like other young people their age and do the same amount of school work as the guy who screams at him every weekend from the stands for blowing a coverage or running the wrong route?
Personally, I know I used to derive a ton of pleasure from watching guys wear the uniform of my school and compete on the highest level, and couldn’t care less whether they earned their credits. If the NCAA can make billions on the backs of student-athletes, student-athletes should at least walk away with a degree afterwards.
Now, should guys who can’t read be allowed to go out into the world with a college degree and the possibility that they’ll need to find another job after their short athletics career is over? That’s another story, and guys like Les Miles and Mike Gundy will have to live with that failure if it’s true.