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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Forget the grades if the schools get paid: It shouldn’t matter how college football players do academically

You know what I’ve noticed lately? A lot of big-time college football players are doing poorly in school! It’s horrific. Somebody, please, anybody, release a study illustrating how the NFL’s farm system doesn’t tend to produce a lot of college graduates.

Oh, thank goodness for the NCAA.

Of this year’s bowl teams, 41 percent fall short of the NCAA’s new academic standards, according to a study released on Monday. Almost everyone seems to agree that this is a terrible thing. Honestly, I’m not convinced.

What are these academically troubled college football players trying to do with their lives? I mean, it’s no coincidence that the NCAA’s “Academic Progress Rate” finds that 90 percent of Division-I programs across all sports meet standards, while bowl-bound college football programs consistently fall short.

Football players at competitive schools-unlike, say, tennis players at San Jose State-usually come to college expecting to play professionally in the future. Many of them are focused on academics as well, but very few potential career fields offer seven-figure signing bonuses right out of college. (Well, maybe computer science, but who the hell wants to do that?)

Most bowl-bound players were such standouts in their hometowns that friends and family positively assured them pro football was a valid possibility. Understandably, many of those players try to live up to those expectations.

So what happens when they fail?

Well, they shed a few tears when nobody’s looking and move on. That’s no different from what happens when a biology major drops out of college. If a player’s sole intent in coming to school is to focus on football, it’s not anybody’s right to mandate a “fall-back option.” After all, careless disregard for reality is what going for your dreams is all about.

Attempting a career in professional sports is like playing roulette and betting everything on 15. That might not be very responsible, but nobody’s making gamblers take classes in between rolls, either. And for some players, it’s not such a huge gamble, anyway.

Do you think Reggie Bush is taking careful notes in calculus class right now? Sure, his career could end at any time, but he’s probably working on his game, which has a likely probability of netting him more next year than he would make with an MBA over the course of his lifetime.

Forget what football will do for the players, and look what the players do for their schools. According to Richard Lapchick, the Central Florida professor who conducted the NCAA’s study, “The key (to improvement) is admitting students who are qualified to be in that school.”

Everyone who plays for USC should score a 1300 on the SATs? Pete Carroll probably wouldn’t score a 1300 on the SATs. Should he fire himself?

Of course not. Football makes millions for these schools, so don’t tell me players shouldn’t be entitled to scholarships just because you aren’t. Your tuition costs less because of those players. At least if your school is competitive, it does. The only way for schools to remain competitive is to recruit the best possible players, regardless of whether they’re potential Rhodes Scholars. No matter what schools do, there’s still going to be the same pool of players at the end of the day.

Should Miami suffer in recruiting wars because it has a respectable academic program? What about Salt Lake Community College? With a little restructuring, SLCC could be a D-I powerhouse.

It sounds absurd, but meeting academic standards can really only have a negative effect for a program.

Listen, I understand that the chances of college football players reaching the NFL are slim. But there are only three possible reasons that they would exhibit sub-par academic performance, and I submit that all of these reasons are acceptable from the school’s standpoint.

1. A player came to a major school for the sole purpose of playing football and devotes all of his time to that pursuit, sacrificing academics.

*What do you want the Ute football team to be doing right now? Studying for finals or studying for Georgia Tech? If players are at least working hard at something, who are we to tell them what to strive for?

2. A player came to a major school for the sole purpose of playing football but couldn’t cut it with the team and is an imminent dropout.

*OK, so this guy needs to do something if he isn’t playing football-but that’s hardly for us to decide. The only reason we have to complain is the player’s lack of performance on the field. He didn’t come to school for school, he came to school for football, and he failed at his subject matter.

3. A player came to school with the intent of balancing academics and football (as a good boy should) but couldn’t cut it in class.

*You can’t fault a college for bringing these guys in. Taking a chance on them is borderline charitable.

If the schools aren’t really at fault, and the players aren’t really at fault, then why don’t we start examining the system as a whole?

The real problem here is that so many athletes are willing to take such a huge risk to begin with-a problem that stems from a number of societal considerations that are hardly under the control of the NCAA.

I don’t offer any solutions, but I would suggest reserving these “studies” for a topic to which they are relevant. Accept the reality that college football and academics are two separate worlds.

Nonetheless, I don’t blame you, Professor Lipchick. At least you did something to bring attention to Central Florida. After all, your football team hasn’t ever been to a bowl game.

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