… The NCAA just released its latest academic ratings. Other than sending the Wuff Loonies into Conspiracy Carpet-Bombing mode, it simply gives kindly old Bill Friday another “report” to put on his bookshelf. I’m sick of all this hypocritical tap dancing about “student-athletes”. There is A SOLUTION but it requires everyone involved – NCAA, School Admins, Coaches, and FANS (Lunatics and Level-Heads) to admit “Their Dirty Little Secret”…. Read On IF YOU DARE!
This latest NCAA “clean up academic abuse” whizbang program is nothing more than a fat man convincing himself he is losing weight by buying pants with an elastic waistband. All the statistical mumbo jumbo totally avoids the real problem. But our Wuff friends did give us a laugh yesterday.
The N&O hit Triangle driveways around 6AM Tues with its front page story on NCSU failing to meet arbitrary NCAA student athletes graduation standards. By 7AM a Special Ops Squad of Lupine Lunatics was on its way to NCAA HQ in Indianapolis to dust the report for Peter Golenbock’s DNA. The first wave of excuses was a doozy as one would expect.
My personal fave was “all our Football and Basketball “students” are in Engineering, Design, and Veterinary Science.” Actually the last NCSU FBer or BBer to enter the Engineering Bldg was Cozelle McQueen who thought it would be cool to learn to drive a Choo Choo train. Cozelle fled the building 30 minutes into his first class, never to enter again. NCSU FBers and BBers are directed into bogus “eligibility majors” JUST LIKE THEIR COUNTERPARTS at UNC, Duke, and every other Division 1-A institution that harbors any dream whatsoever of being “bowl eligible”.
That NC State scored poorly in this report means very little except to give Tar Heels something besides “the parade” to rag Wuffies about for a decade or so. Any alternative to “parade jibe” is good I suppose.
The only SEC schools that “passed” were Mississippi State (??) and, of course, Vanderbilt. NOT ONE Big 12 school passed. Ohio State did not. UCLA, Arizona St, Kansas, Alabama, Arizona, on and on and on. Duh … schools with the best Won-Loss records, especially in Football, have the lowest graduation records … Duh!
Whatever issues this new NCAA ruling is suppose to resolve … it will do nothing to effect the real problem – The Recruiting of 18 year old Athletes To Attend Academic Institutions under the bogus pretense of being “Students”. This latest plan will simply lead to more bogus classes and more pressure on instructors to give passing grades for totally unacceptable classwork. Every school parades out its Todd Fullers, Shane Battiers, and Steve Hales … and hides its dim-witted miscreants in the basement (except on GameDay!).
And the dirty little secret is: No One Is Really Interested In A Solution, Just In Generating Flatulant Doubletalk Absolving Their Own Institution of Malfeasance … “everybody does it” … “we have to to be competitive” … “we have no choice” … “it’s the high schools’ fault” … “ we can’t force them to study” … blah, blah, blah. The only real “effort” ever applied is to twist and invert the findings to discourage examination of the real issue.
NOBODY really gives a damn! Hypocritical coaches give it lip service to hypocritical alumni/fans crying alligator tears about “the kids”. Alumni/fans care about TWO issues … (1) Make us proud on GameDay … (2) Don’t embarrass us by getting into trouble. If “star players” like Julius Peppers sneak by for six consecutive semesters by the barest of margins involving multiple retests in the silliest of electives to score “just enough” to stay in school WHO CARES? If T.A. McLendon doesn’t go to class at all his last semester WHO CARES? Win games for us and keep your nose clean … beyond that WHO CARES?
Academic Faculty cares you say … NO THEY DON’T! Oh, they despise the rock star coaches getting paid megabucks and they wish they had saunas and pool tables in their offices too; but the travesty of having students in their classes with 5th grade reading levels WHO CARES? So long as the “student” keeps the volume low on his walkman and doesn’t snore too loud WHO CARES?
NOW … I don’t care that NOBODY CARES! I have a solution that does a quite nifty end run around all this hypocrisy. It is a simple two-part Either-Or issue …
Only recruit “athletes” who have legitimate college level academic skills
Provide a legitimate alternative for academically challenged athletes.
Coaches’ and fans’ competitive egos have proven that #1 never works … never has … never will. Build all the walls you want to and they will maneuver under, over, and around every one of them. Coaches, Maniacal boosters, computer hackers, and cockroaches will ALWAYS find a way. So we go with #2.
I propose that the coaches keep right on recruiting the same Blue Chip Phenoms. The games SHOULD be contested by the highest-skilled participants possible. Big Time College sports is a marvelous pageant for sure. When a player wearing your team’s uniform runs out on the field/court you could care less what his academic qualifications are … you actually prefer NOT to know so there is no chance of any guilt feelings. I don’t blame you. I have learned to block it out too. Those illiterate post-game interviews get a bit scary but they can be finessed too. BobLee Swagger’s Ultimate Solution eliminates that “hold your nose and cheer for dear old alma mater”.
Admission standards for every athlete to every Division 1-A institution should be exactly the same. None of this “extra math” or “foreign language” or 1000 SAT nonsense. In fact, forget SAT/ACT altogether. If he drags his knuckles across a stage and gruntingly grabs a high school diploma, he is “recruitable” for every Div 1-A institution. As you will soon see, these “athletes” aren’t going to be attending a traditional academic institution anyway.
Set some generous “conduct” standards that we’ll call the “Papa Bowden Misdemeanors Don’t Count nor Do The First Seven Felonies”. Selling dope, fathering who knows how many illegitimate kids, robbing a few c-stores, cracking a few heads … hey, boys will be boys … he just needs a little “structure” and “someone who cares”. Each school decides if it wants to go with hoodlums or Boy Scouts or a combination. Define “our kind of kids” by whatever definition floats your boat. The issue of academically unqualified college athletes is no different that steroids in baseball. We make excuses for “our guys” doing exactly what we condemn our opponents for doing.
This plan allows every coach to recruit every athlete. The only variables are the recruiter’s BS-ability about why “we’re the team you should play for”. Stress the hot nympho-babes and pretty trees and # of bars and clubs near campus, but don’t screw around with the Hugh Shelton, Charles Kuralt and Whatshisname The Astronaut nonsense. Hit the 18 y/o hot buttons … Sex, Suds & the NFL/NBA carrot.
Unless the recruited athlete actually merits admission to the school on his legitimate academic merits (yes, it occasionally does happen), he will be enrolled in BobLee’s NCAA Community College Co-Op Program his first two years “on campus”. The athlete lives on campus as any “regular student” but a shuttle picks him and his teammates up each morning and delivers them to the nearest community college to pursue a two year associates curriculum in whatever trade they show an aptitude for … electronics, sheetmetal fabricating, HVAC, automotive repair, carpentry, computer programming, culinary arts, any trade training the school offers.
The athlete-students are brought back to their campus in the early afternoon and can partake of the normal campus activities of hanging out on “the Quad”, scoping out the nympho-babes and struttin’ and posin’. In the evening they can hit the sticky-floored bars and “clubs” and exude even more coolness hopefully, of course, avoiding the dreaded “name on a police report”.
At the end of his first two years (and before he can “go pro”) the young man has already become certified in a marketable trade. He has a more realistic view of his long term athletic potential and can gauge the potential lifetime value of his new skill. He has now shed all his high school BMOC bravado and at least has a clue about life’s grim realities.
Beginning his 3rd year at his Division 1-A school home, he will embark on a standard 2-year “life skills” curriculum that will be uniform throughout the NCAA. It will insure that in addition to his recently acquired trade skill, he will have the reading, writing, and basic communication skills to have a decent shot at being a contributing member of society whether or not he pursues a higher level of athletics or not. IN ADDITION … he can apply his new trade skills during this period and keep the income it generates.
Two years out of high school and with the acquired discipline imposed by his high intensity collegiate sports participation, he will have a unique second (and last) chance to secure the basic education he missed via the social promotions he was “given” in high school. There is a reason to get the trade certification BEFORE he gets the “who was George Washington and how many pints in a quart” training.
Yes, this Solution acknowledges that the majority of Blue Chip phenoms signing Div 1-A “scholarships” have no business whatsoever being force-feed into an academic environment for which they are woefully unprepared. If a legitimate “student-athlete” has the credentials to be mainstreamed with “real students” he may certainly chose that option.
By removing the academic variances at various universities, all Division 1-A athletes are thereby “equal”. A certified plumber or HVAC technician at a Big 12 school is comparable to his counterpart at an ACC school. The last two years of “life skill training” will be standardized and since it is only being offered to 50-60 “students” at any one time can be easily taught by a staff of no more than 2-3 instructors in basic English, History, Mathematics, Checkbook balancing, and How To Finesse a Job Interview. These Life Skill instructors salaries will be covered by the athletic boosters’ endowment just as the athletes “scholarships” are. There is no expense to the university’s legitimate academic mission.
Even better, since this program never actually involves “the University’s traditional academic mission” I propose all Div 1-A Football and Basketball “scholarships” have a universal set value of $15,000/year. Whether a kid signs with Stanford or East Carolina, its all the same. All he is using the traditional university for is a dorm room so “tuition” is not an issue.
Yes, these “athlete-students” will be “different” from the rank & file student body and there will be a bit of a stigma attached. Unlike under the current system in which they are sneeringly referred to as “that big, mean dude sleeping in the back of the room wearing the walkman”.
Nothing will change relative to on field/on court performances. Coaches will be responsible for the athletes getting on the bus each morning for the ride to the nearby community college and the various slush funds will still be needed to get local law enforcement to look the other way when testosterone reaches the Break Something levels.
Coaches won’t be able to complain they “can’t get XYZ Phenom passed the Admissions Guy”. Alumni can’t whine that “the AD and the Chancellor don’t want to win bad enough”. Athletes will actually learn something useful to them in “life after athletics” … and society gets more plumbers, electricians, and pastry chefs.
Or we can always go with my earlier plan which is that EVERY school must track and publish a 5 – 10 – 20 year “Where are they now” historical record of every athlete ever brought into their program. That one somehow never appeals to any Div 1-A coach I’ve ever mentioned it to.
Clifton Clowers and his pretty young daughter live _____?
Well, we learned yet another reason why SwaggerSays readers are definitely “a cut above” the crowd. LOTS of Lonesome Dove addicts in Mr Swagger’s audience. That is a very good thing. Likely will require a special Lonesome Dove column soon.
William Sanderson played Darryl and Darryl’s brother “Larry” AND he played “Lippy” the chuckwagon driver on the Hat Creek Company’s cattle drive to Montana Territory.
This weekend BobLee will spend his annual Weekend With Governor Schwarzenegger. This will be #7 by my count. Always a wild and wooly weekend sure to generate ample column fodder.