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Does the NCAA Exploit Athletes?


Thomas Palaima has an interesting article in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education dealing with the NCAA regulation—or lack of such—of its member institutions in the way in which they prepare student-athletes for life after college.

Palaima argues that even though these young people, particularly those in football and basketball, generate millions of dollars in revenues for their schools those same schools largely fail to provide them with a legitimate experience as college students.

Palaima represents the University of Texas at Austin on the NCAA sponsored Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics that was formed three years ago to look at issues surrounding the possible exploitation of student-athletes by their colleges and universities.

The NCAA recognizes that only a tiny fraction of college athletes will ever earn a living in their individual sports.  With about 400,000 athletes at NCAA member institutions and only 0.5% of them going on to careers in professional sports about 398,000 of today’s athletes had better obtain a good college education to prepare them for the rest of their lives.

The so-called “big time” athletic schools are the members most directly faced with this dilemma.  Palaima believes that member institutions are generally failing to educate their student-athletes and, at least at the Division I level, many of these athletes are exploited for profit and not getting much in return.

Palaima lists four recommendations for Division I schools:

  1.  Student-athletes should be matched with educational institutions that best fit their academic needs and be provided to the tools to compete in the job market beyond professional sports.
  2. Schools should provide student-athletes with enough time to study and allow them to choose major and minor areas of study that fit their abilities and interests.  Schools should also allow this segment of their undergraduates the opportunities to experience all aspects of campus life.
  3. That everything be done to help student-athletes obtain their degrees before their athletic eligibility runs out.
  4. Schools must work to disabuse student-athletes of the notion that all of them will play professional sports in the future.

Given the money involved in big-time college sports the recommendations of the Coalition that Palaima lists here will be considered naïve and foolish by many.  Does this mean, however, that they should simply be dismissed?  This article goes on to discuss cynical abuses of the Academic Progress Rate (APR) and Graduation Success Rate (GSR) tools  used by the NCAA to evaluate how well member schools are doing in educating student-athletes.   Readers are encouraged to read the entire article and to share your thoughts.

Editor’s Note—This article deals with the same basic subject matter as one posted last week on the blog.  To see that article click on the following link:  http://thesportdigest.com/2011/04/has-the-bar-been-lowered-too-far-for-college-student-athletes/


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