You have seen the advertisements from a mobile telephone company cleverly combining the names of several cities and countries to emphasize the network’s broad coverage. It occurred to me that such combinations could be applied as well to a discussion of the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR), which tracks the academic performance of student-athletes and penalizes squads whose student-athletes do not meet certain academic performance metrics. Welcome to the University of Ohiopennkaniowatenn.
The new world of the NCAA academic eligibility standards pivot on a key yet scarcely mentioned variable: an institution’s central academic policies. As such my argument is this: a collection of academic policies, many or of all which were developed with no thought given to NCAA eligibility standards, influences greatly how the new standards will play out on any individual campus. Academic calendars, course drop policies, course scheduling practices, transfer policies and the like now mean that a student-athlete at one school may have a very different experience vis-à-vis NCAA academic standards than the student-athlete at a different institution. And the student-athlete who attends the University of Ohiopennkaniowatenn will have the easiest time of all if good ‘ole U of O adopts certain policies, but not others.
Take the calendar for dropping a course with a grade of W. At the University of Tennessee students (and student-athletes) must decide to drop a course by the forty-first day of the semester, before having the chance to submit midterm examinations and papers. This early deadline means that there is precious little time, and only limited inputs, for deciding to drop the course or not. By contrast, students at the University of Kansas may drop a course through the sixtieth day of the semester. Furthermore, students withdrawing from a course at Tennessee after the forty-first day face the possibility of earning a WF grade that counts as an F for calculating the semester gpa. Not so at Kansas, where the WF is not calculated in the gpa. Or, the student could be studying at Penn State, where the deadline to drop a course with a W is the sixtieth day. Like at Tennessee, the student there faces earning a WF grade if the course is dropped after the deadline, and the grade counts as an F for calculating the gpa. However, the Penn State student (and student-athlete) might be lucky enough to earn a WN (no grade) in this situation, which is not calculated in the gpa.
Attendance policies and course scheduling play important roles as well. Absences accrued by University of Florida student-athletes traveling to athletic competitions are excused, and faculty at Auburn University are required to schedule make up sessions for in-class examinations and assignments missed by students and student-athletes with excused absences. Not so at Tennessee, so that an athlete who misses a quiz or even examination does not have to be offered an opportunity to make up these in-class assignments (and as Faculty Athletics Representative at Tennessee I can tell you that not infrequently student-athletes’ grades suffer because of these missed opportunities).
Missing classes due to travel to competition, a primary variable in academic success, is less of a problem at the University of Iowa, where so few courses are offered on Fridays, a prime athletic travel day, that one academic college at the university is offering to pay departments to list more Friday courses. The announced goal for the return of Friday classes at Iowa is to end abusive drinking associated with “Thirsty Thursdays.” But another ramification of this change would be a sharp increase in the number of classes Iowa student-athletes will miss.
Grading scales can also matter. At Tennessee and Rutgers, athletes and students study in a system, nearly unique to these two schools, that assigns full letter grades and plus grades, but not minus grades. Other schools assign only full letter grades. Students and student-athletes at North Carolina State and the University of Alabama enjoy the opportunity to balance lower course grades with grades of A+ that carry 4.3 grade points. And speaking of course grades, does a grade of D count towards requirements in the major? They do if you are an Oregon Duck, and they do at the University of Georgia, but not if you are enrolled in a major in the College of Arts and Sciences. Perhaps no other policy plays a bigger role in determining progress towards degree eligibility for college athletes.
Myriad other policies come into play. Does the institution accept grades of D from transfer students? The University of Arkansas accepts up to six such transfer credits, but Tennessee does not. Are mid-year transfers accepted? At Vanderbilt they are not, so that its basketball coach was not allowed to sign a prominent basketball player when he wished to transfer from the University of Arizona (he now plays at Tennessee). How many courses may be repeated, how are the repeated course grades calculated, and are there other restrictions on course repeats? At Tennessee a maximum of three lower division courses may be repeated, with the higher grade replacing the lower score. At Ohio University departments set their own course repeat rules, and many allow up to five repeated courses at either the lower or upper division levels.
The relationship between academic policies and NCAA metrics has created a dilemma for which I have no immediate solution. One size does not and should not fit all in higher education. Our universities have different missions, serve different populations, and define success differently. But when addressing academic reform the NCAA does try to make one size fit all for very good reasons that have to do with fairness, establishing a level field of competition, and now to establish a reasonable chance of graduating from college. Unwittingly, its new academic expectations and regulations have upped the importance of the kinds of central academic policies operating as a whole that I have described here.
Perhaps there is no solution to this dilemma, but the NCAA’s academic reforms do teach us a valuable lesson that extends beyond athletes and athletic departments: University administrators would do well to approach key academic policies in toto when considering the academic expectations they have for all of their students. One policy alone will not determine students’ performances, but the sum of a school’s academic policies does produce an individual campus culture, certain academic expectations, and the likelihood of success or failure. At most schools these policies probably did not develop at the same time and as a coherent whole, and indeed contradictory policies may exist on the same campus.
Academic policies adopted piecemeal likely have escaped the kind of careful, cumulative review I am calling for here. Given their importance in promoting student success they should be approached as a whole, and reviewed to determine if they reflect the goals of the university. Certainly I am not calling for a cynical plan to alter policies only to facilitate an athlete’s academic eligibility, but we can take advantage of the recent NCAA academic success legislation to think more intentionally about our academic policies and how they impact all students. In short, we can learn from the NCAA.
There are many best practices to guide such a review. For a start I suggest reviewing the academic policies of the University of Ohiopennkaniowatenn, proud home of the Bobcatnittanylionjayhawkhawkeyevolunteers.
Todd A. Diacon
Todd Diacon is vice provost for academic operations and faculty athletics representative at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
A friend recently noted that this week’s column would probably run at just about the time the Chinese government was using the Olympic torch to burn down a Tibetan village. Perhaps, he said, this might be a good occasion to check out the latest edition of The Ancient Olympic Games by Judith Swadding – first published by the British Museum in 1980 and now being reissued by the University of Texas Press.
The earlier version contained a succinct overview of how the Olympics (originally held every four years between 776 BC and 395 AD) were revived at the close of the 19th century. The new edition has been expanded to include an account of the past century or so – during which time the games often served as a venue for propaganda, a medium through which great powers conducted their hostilities. All this, of course, in spite of official rhetoric about how the spirit of sportsmanship transcends ideology.
The update is necessary, I suppose, but in some ways anticlimatic – even a distraction. Let modern times take care of themselves; the author’s heart really belongs to the ancient world. Swaddling is a curator at the British Museum, and conducts most of the book as an amiable and instructive tour of what has survived of the world of the original Olympic competitions. The text is heavily illustrated with photographs of the surviving architecture at Olympia and artwork portraying the games themselves.
The most intriguing image, at least to me, was a photograph of an artifact known as a strigil. This is a device that is often mentioned in accounts of the period, but is hard to picture. The strigil was an “oil scraper,” used to peel away the layer of grime that built up on an athlete’s skin in the course of events such as the pankatrion, which is not found in the modern Olympics – a kind of no-holds-barred wrestling match that sounds absolutely brutal, and that doubtless left many who fought in it crippled for life.
The strigil, it turns out, looks something like a windshield de-icer with a little bottle of olive oil conveniently attached by a chain. Having oil rubbed into the skin before competition was supposed to prevent sunburn and otherwise be good for the athlete’s health. Any excess oil was supposed to be strigil’d off before the competition began. But a wrestler sometimes “forgot” to do this quite as thoroughly as he should. This gave him a definite advantage by making it harder for the opponent to get a grip.
More flagrant forms of cheating must have been a serious problem. Hefty fines for it were given out – that is, if the malefactor were lucky. If he wasn’t, justice was dealt out by tough characters armed with whips. Any racer who started before the signal was given should probably have just keep on running. There were also cases of competitions being “fixed.”
Swaddling writes that “instances of bribery were relatively rare.” She quotes an ancient author asking who would be such a lowlife as to try to corrupt a sacred event. (Apart from being a sporting event, the Olympics were also major religious gatherings, with scores of oxen being sacrificed for the occasion.) But you have to wonder if piety really kept everyone in line.
The author does not mention the statues of Zeus in a heavily trafficked area of Olympia, portraying the god in a menacing aspect. Inscriptions at the base of each statue warned people not to attempt to bribe the judges. If you did, Zeus would presumably hurl one of the thunderbolts he was carrying in his fist. This suggests that the temptation to offer the judges a little something was fairly common. Why go to all the trouble if everyone was already reverent and restrained?
Then again, it is easy to imagine why the athletes themselves would want to cheat. Winning immortal glory was one incentive; but so was avoiding immortal shame. The author quotes one Olympic sports commentator whose put-downs still work after two thousand years: “Charmos, a long distance runner, finished seventh in a field of six. A friend ran alongside him shouting, ‘Keep going Charmos!’ and although fully dressed, beat him. And if he had had five friends, he would have finished twelfth.”
Nor was Charmos the only victim of ancient stand-up comedy. Although Swaddling doesn’t cite it, there was the case of a boxer whose “admirers” wanted to erect a monument to his humanitarianism. Why? Because he never hurt anybody.
Greek doctors occasionally expressed irritation when athletes set themselves up as medical advisers and, Swaddling notes, “even attempted to write books on the subject.” You can just picture them performing live infomercials in the agora. Such grumbling aside, it seems there was a close connection between the Olympics and progress in ancient medical science. The latter “virtually came to a standstill when the major games ceased in the late fourth century AD.”
The close connection between the two fields was expressed in mythology: “Asklepios, the Greek god of medicine, learned his skills from the centaur Cheiron, who was credited with the introduction of competitive gymnastics and of music from the doubles pipes to accompany exercise.” (Someone should mention this to the people who run Jazzercise.)
Married women were not allowed onto the grounds of the Olympic festivities, though they managed to sneak in from time to time. Was there some dubious medical theory to rationalize this? In any case, the exclusion did not apply to all women. Both virgins and prostitutes were permitted to attend the games.
That sounds like something out of a Freudian case study. Swaddling simply notes the matter without trying to interpret it. I have no theories, but will offer a bit of related speculation. One of these days an archaeologist is going to discover an inscription that reads: “What happens at the Olympics, stays at the Olympics.”
It hasn’t been a problem for the last 15 years. Fall semesters have come and gone, and I’ve managed to keep up with my grading and on top of my reading and even get some research done. I’ve done the routine administrative work that has come my way and been a good academic advisor to my students. I’ve gotten eight hours of sleep a night.
That is, until this fall.
The Phillies are in the World Series.
At almost three hours per game, in first a best-of-five-game, then two best-of-seven series that adds up to a whole lot of hours I don’t have during the academic year.
But I have no option.
This is a team that last year hit a U.S. professional sports franchise record of 10,000 losses. A team that was, during my entire childhood and adolescence, referred to in my house as “those bums.” A team who managed to win its only World Series title one month after I moved away from the Philadelphia area to go to graduate school. (Try looking for a bar full of Phillies fans in Bloomington, Indiana).
The Phillies earned my love and loyalty when I was a kid via the unlikely channel of my report card. In the 60s and 70s, the now-defunct Philadelphia Bulletin sponsored a challenge that awarded two Phillies tickets to four different games over the summer to every kid in greater Philadelphia who got straight A's on her or his report card in June. My sister and I used to score big every year, earning us four tickets to each of those four games. Our parents chipped in for the other two tickets that would enable our family of six to attend, and we set off across the bridge from South Jersey, first to Connie Mack Stadium and then to the concrete behemoth Veterans Stadium.
We never went to any other professional sports events – who could afford tickets for a family of six to the Eagles or the 76ers or, later, the Flyers? Consequently, none of those other teams or sports ever really caught my attention.
But the Fightin’ Phils had me for life. Free tickets for straight A's? How cool was that? And what’s not to like about a professional baseball game? From the hot dogs to the Cracker Jacks to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” baseball is tailor-made for kids. It’s the only pro sport that woos fans so young, and it certainly worked on me.
So now I’m in trouble. Hours and hours of baseball-watching time, plus chatting with my sister and my mom about the games, plus repeated washing of my Phillies T-shirts and jerseys is interfering with my ability to get through October as a respected professional.
The first problem is my lack of cable television. Because I am one of those annoying academics who can’t keep up with pop culture conversations because I don’t get enough channels, I found myself, come playoff time, in a pickle. Given how badly the Phillies have always done (until last year, but we won’t speak of that sweep in Colorado), I haven’t had to worry much about watching playoff games. I actually pay Major League Baseball a sum that is the equivalent of two or three good books in my field in order to be able to watch Phillies games during the regular season on my computer. But that fee does not cover the postseason. And my lack of cable means that I had to spend late September in bars. This is a sad, sad thing. Is there anything more pathetic than a lone, middle-aged woman (sometimes in a Phillies shirt) sitting at a bar, nursing a beer? (Try finding a bar full of Phillies fans in Red Sox Nation.)
The second problem is the time. Time for the games has to come, of course, out of my sleeping time and any social life I might have had – the grading and the course prep and the meetings just don’t go away. And I learned early that I can’t drink more than one beer during a game and expect to be able to stay awake to read Thomas Carlyle afterwards. I plan my days around the games, at the expense of my partner and child (though, to be fair, they do sometimes join in the game-watching). We all must live around this postseason, and housework, and sometimes even cooking, will just have to wait.
Professional credibility would be a problem as well, were it not for the enthusiasm of folks in New England for their own baseball team. Last week, while the Sox were still in contention, I was walking through campus in my Eastern Division Champs 2008 Phillies T-shirt (discreetly hidden under a zip-front cardigan), when I spotted a colleague from the computer science department. I unzipped and pointed to my Phillies logo. He responded by pointing to his Red Sox cap. The silent acknowledgment of our mutual (yet not) passion comforted me.
And now, instead of grading or prepping to teach or, heaven forbid, getting some work done on my research, I am following the Phillies and, what is more, I am writing about not grading or prepping to teach or doing research because I am following the Phillies.
Still, no one gives me anything anymore for getting straight A's. I figure I owe the Phillies this.
Paula M. Krebs
Paula M. Krebs is a professor of English at Wheaton College, in Massachusetts.
Myles Brand, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, has been embarking lately on a peculiar public relations campaign. With NCAA member institutions increasingly worried about the consequences of Title IX, a federal statute that governs the gender distribution of athletic opportunity, Brand has been loudly urging them all to, well, shut up about it.
On November 21, Brand told USA Today, “My expectation is that over the next year or two we are going to see more cuts of men’s teams and so I am trying, frankly, to pre-empt the argument against Title IX … and dissuade universities from going public with this approach.”
Brand’s forecast was based on shrinking budgets in a period of economic decline. But it’s not the first time he has tried to silence the debate about Title IX enforcement. When the NCAA and the U.S. Olympic Committee met in 2005 to discuss the tragic and ongoing decimation of men’s collegiate teams, Brand insisted on this ground rule: “While the impacts of Title IX are likely to be relevant to the Task Force’s deliberations, consideration of the merits or scope of the law as enforced and proposals for the modification of the law or its enforcement are not.”
Incredibly, Brand has even stiff-armed the federal government itself when its representatives have asked him for straight talk on Title IX. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights called the NCAA to testify last May about why Brand has fought against colleges’ surveying their own students on athletic interest, which is an alternative way to comply with the law. Asked point blank how institutions ought to solicit student input, the NCAA offered no answer. Last year, when the U.S. Government Accountability Office asked the NCAA for school-by-school data on athletic participation -- the key measure of Title IX’s impact -- the NCAA refused to provide it and to this day keeps the information under lock and key.
Brand’s intransigence seems an especially troubling posture for a former university president, whom you might hope would regard open and free discourse as a high virtue. It is stranger still since in his current office he is supposed to be fostering the interests of college athletes, not papering over the harms that are causing teams to be eliminated.
In the six years that Brand has led the NCAA, the lion’s share of teams that have been eliminated are men’s programs -- which many coaches and administrators say is a result of Title IX’s strict gender requirements. Many of the men’s teams that remain have to endure a fixed roster cap that shuts out male athletes in order to meet Title IX’s proportionality rule.
For their part, colleges around the country are agonized about the compliance bind they face. Universities such as Fresno State, Rutgers, James Madison and Ohio have said explicitly and with real emotion that Title IX is the major factor in their decision to select men’s teams for elimination. These wrenching decisions are being made by conscientious administrators who, it must be noted, do themselves no favors by citing the truth about Title IX enforcement. Their candor earns them the wrath of advocacy groups on both sides of the issue, including ours.
But on his blog, the Double-A Zone, Brand effectively calls those administrators liars. “Title IX is an excuse and I’m not happy that some schools have come out and blamed Title IX for the cutting of sports,” he said on his podcast. “It isn’t Title IX that’s doing it.”
As for the athletes themselves, Brand doesn’t want to hear from them, either. Although the spirit of Title IX is to accommodate the interest of students that wish to participate, Brand has fought tooth and nail against allowing colleges to survey those students directly. The top objection stated in his open letter on the matter? “[It] permits schools to use surveys alone ... as a means to assess female students’ interest in sports.”
Got that? Simply asking young women whether they want to play sports is too much for Brand. His second reason is that surveys might somehow perpetuate “stereotypes that discourage [women] from participating.” That’s pretty galling from a man who apparently believes that young women can’t think for themselves and so others should make decisions for them.
Even though the Department of Education -- the enforcers of the Title IX regulations -- has encouraged schools to implement surveys, only one of Brand’s member institutions, Western Illinois, has dared to defy his edict.
But Brand found much more like-minded company during a trip he made a few weeks ago to China as a guest of their Ministry of Education. “As I talked with those both inside and outside the universities, there was one thing that … distinguished the current social milieu in America from that of China,” Brand wrote on his blog. “There was almost a complete lack of cynicism … a common attitude that I found remarkably refreshing. There was some willingness to disagree … with those in authority but it always occurred not with the kind of cynicism that takes any situation, even a very good one, and focuses on the negative.”
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that Brand admires a totalitarian government’s methods of dictating public discourse. After all, he comes from the world of academia, where campus speech codes are all too common. Perhaps the NCAA would like a more sweeping edict: thou shalt not disagree with Myles Brand.
Eric Pearson is chairman of College Sports Council, a coalition of coaches, athletes and parents that seeks changes in Title IX.
President-elect Barack Obama has proposed replacing the Bowl Championship Series games with an eight-team playoff to determine the national college football champion in Division I-A. If his administration really has the time and inclination to deal with crises other than the national economic picture and our health care system, we would encourage him to focus on something more important than football: how American institutions of higher education are faring in the international education bowl.
Our national education game plan is in fact linked to our economic future. One crucial factor is how our colleges and universities raise and spend their money, for academics and for sports.
As two concerned members of the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, a consortium of university faculty senates concerned about sports issues, we offer here our opinions drawn from our long up-close and personal perspectives on how big-time sports has affected the academic missions at our two universities: the University of Oregon and the University of Texas at Austin. U.T.'s athletics director is (in)famous for declaring its program the "Joneses" of NCAA athletics, with which all others must keep up. Longhorns Inc, as Texas Monthly called Texas athletics in its November issue, outspends all but a few competitors. It is one of the few college sports programs to make a profit. The University of Oregon has also moved into the top 25 in Division I-A football. We discuss the costs to both institutions below.
In September 2006, the U.S. Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education painted a jumbotron-scale picture of the failings and needs of our colleges and universities in math, science, engineering and even reading and writing. The final report, ironically entitled A Test of Leadership, highlighted a serious decline in U.S. student academic performance compared to other countries. Undeterred by these alarming data, university leaders have increased athletic spending, while academic programs suffer.
Simply put, in balancing the institutional priorities of athletics and academics, many university presidents are failing our country. But they are not alone. The University of Texas System Board of Regents, which oversees U.T., has authorized spending a quarter of a billion dollars on stadiums, practice fields and sports arena enhancements since 2003. Other Texas universities spent $750 million during this same time on sports facilities.
"So what?" you might say. "U.T. athletics is making money." We might say this too, if winning football games were the real business of our educational institutions and made a positive contribution to our country's future. The one competition that matters internationally is education. And big-time sports spending carries an educational cost.
It is noteworthy and undoubtedly a relief to our president-elect that college sports is one American big business not looking for a federal bailout. But this is not because NCAA programs across the country are making money. The most recent NCAA study reports that only 17 of the 1,200+ NCAA athletic programs earned a net profit in the economically healthy period between 2004 and 2006. In 2006, 99 Division 1-A programs ran deficits. The average was $8.9 M. Since most universities cannot run deficits, the money for big-time sports spending comes from institutional academic budgets.
Second, universities already get a big handout from the federal government. By making skybox rental fees and mandatory donations for ticket-purchasing privileges tax deductible, our government actually encourages universities to build stadiums and arenas laden with luxury sky-boxes and other kinds of preferred seating. That's where the big "tax-deductible" money is.
Wealthy sports boosters like Phil Knight (the University of Oregon) and T. Boone Pickens (Oklahoma State University) can write off their gifts of $100 million or more to sports programs as donations to higher education.
Congressional committees have examined these loopholes recently and not made any moves towards changing them. However, in fall 2007, the daughter of the late U.S. Rep J.J. (Jake) Pickle, who authored the original Pickle Amendment that created the loopholes, was appalled to learn of the extravagant spending of the University of Texas athletics department. She wrote the Austin American-Statesman that her father never intended that "our sports programs" would "eclipse the purpose of the University of Texas."
There are also other hidden educational costs to sports spending. U.T.'s sprawling sports facilities take up precious building space on campus, even as the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has told the university that it needs an additional 1.4 million square feet of classroom and laboratory facilities to give its 50,000 students a satisfactory education. At the University of Oregon, 60 percent of all campus building projects in the past 10 years have been for intercollegiate athletics, including a new, palatial $200 million basketball arena financed by state bonds.
Then there is the effect on "wannabe" institutions. The UT Board of Regents on December 18 approved a plan for the University of Texas at San Antonio to start a big-time football program by 2016. The plan involves doubling student athletics fees at the 28,000-student institution to $480 annually in order to generate about 70 percent of the conservatively estimated $18 million yearly budget the football program will require. Meanwhile the Texas-San Antonio library reports that it is still occupying the same space it did when the campus opened in 1973 and has inadequate room for its print collection, computers, and student study areas.
Some university leaders have taken salary cuts in response to the fiscal crisis enveloping our universities. But they have not touched the compensation of big-time sports coaches. In November, UT's head baseball coach received a 25 percent raise, to $1 million, and an assistant football coach was designated heir apparent to the head coach's $3 million position. His salary will be raised in January 112 percent -- that's not a typo -- to $900,000, 50 percent more than UT's president makes. Remember, that's for an assistant coach.
Outdoing the Joneses for once, the University of Oregon anointed one of its assistant football coaches a head-coach-in-waiting, too, at $7 million over 5 years. Meanwhile Oregon, like many other universities, cut its academic budget this fall, resulting in fewer courses, larger class sizes and decreased student services.
Oregon and UT played in bowl games this year. What was the cost of getting there? One cost is that the football players on their teams are "bottom-feeders" in the annual Higher Ed Watch's Academic BCS Rankings, based on their abysmal graduation rates and their poor graduation ratio between black and white players. The second cost is in dollars that could be going to academic needs. UT's athletics budget works out to $244,684 per year for each of its 511 athlete-students, but its official student-related expenditures are $11,344 for each student. Oregon spends $108,000 per year for each athlete-student and $9,222 for each enrolled student. The stats are similar at other Division 1 NCAA institutions.
Other countries are beating us in education by wisely using their financial resources not for sports entertainment, but on classrooms, libraries and laboratories. American children are less well educated and have fewer career opportunities than their parents. They have less hope.
Creating more hope is what Barack Obama is all about. Let us hope he uses his influence to get Congress to close the loopholes that have perverted our higher educational priorities, and that he directs our new secretary of education to work seriously on getting university leaders across the country to focus on the one bowl game that truly matters: education.
Tom Palaima and Nathan Tublitz
Tom Palaima is the Raymond F. Dickson Centennial Professor of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin, and Nathan Tublitz is a professor of biology at the University of Oregon.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I men's basketball tournament resumes today. After the nets have been cut at the end of this year’s Final Four, after CBS plays “One Shining Moment” for the umpteenth time, another batch of freshmen will declare themselves eligible for the National Basketball Association draft after only one year in college.
The “one and done” trend is continuing, year after year. The numbers are the same, if not growing. Only the names are different this year: instead of Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo, and Derrick Rose, it’ll (probably) be Al-Farouq Aminu, Demar DeRozen, Greg Monroe and BJ Mullens. Under a rule passed by the NBA and its players' union in 2005, elite basketball prospects are required to be at least 19 years old and at least one year removed from their senior year in high school in order to enter the draft. The NBA’s current policy essentially forces prospects, many of whom are ready to earn a living professionally, to play collegiately -- for no pay -- in what is essentially the NBA’s minor league system, the NCAA.
The number of college freshmen drafted by the NBA has risen considerably since the rule’s implementation: 2 in 2006, 8 in 2007, and 12 in 2008.
From the NBA’s standpoint, the rule functions marvelously. As prospects get national exposure and have their skills polished by distinguished collegiate coaches, the NBA doesn’t have to pay a dime. Its scouts don’t have to travel to obscure high schools; they can focus solely on the college and European ranks.
It’s not bad for the college teams for whom these “one and dones” are playing, either. One year of Derrick Rose propelled Memphis into its first championship game since 1973. And when the team is winning, jerseys and merchandise are selling, and fund raising, at least for athletics, is growing.
Despite the obvious benefits of receiving a superstar player -- if only for one year -- some college coaches are seeing big negatives. Tom Izzo, the head coach for Michigan State University, told Fort Wayne’s Journal Gazette that, as a result of the NBA eligibility rule, cheating in the collegiate ranks is getting worse. Lute Olsen, the former head coach at the University of Arizona, told the Los Angeles Times last year that the current rule with one-year players is “a farce.”
The rule has created a façade of moral purity in the collegiate ranks. People are to believe that these so-called “student-athletes” are receiving the genuine, untainted university experience. Unfortunately, they are not. Too many have as light a course load as possible in the fall semester and, regardless of course load in the spring, conference tournaments and preparing for the opportunity to participate in March Madness overrules the spring semester. This leaves the summer as a time to try and “catch up,” in addition to the unofficial requirement that players remain on campus to work out for the next season.
Moreover, not only is the rule hypocritical, it’s disproportionately harmful to underprivileged African American youth, who make up the majority of basketball players at big-time programs. By the time these young men reach college, they already know that the family’s economic burdens are theirs to carry.
Brandon Jennings, ranked by many as the nation’s number-one point guard recruit last year, recently bypassed his college commitment to play for Olson at Arizona, instead opting to play professionally for a European team, Virtus Roma. Jennings knew he wouldn’t fully capitalize on the university experience, so he made other plans. He chose a more honest path (to Olson's dismay).
In fact, he’ll probably get a better education traveling the streets of Rome than in he would have in one year on campus. In a recent article in ESPN The Magazine, Jennings says he’s learning to be “mentally tough” across the pond, and that it’s “great preparation” for the NBA, as well as for life in general. “It's a big learning experience over here,” Jennings says.
Jennings grew up in Compton, Calif., in a single-parent home. Instead of playing collegiately for the Wildcats, he chose to start earning a living for his family immediately.
In baseball, an individual can declare for the First-Year Player Draft if he has graduated from high school. Players from four-year colleges can enter the draft only if they have completed their junior or senior years, or if they are at least 21 years old.
Why can’t basketball function like baseball?
The current eligibility rule will remain in effect through the 2010-11 academic year. When the NBA and its players union sit down to evaluate their policy choices, they should offer these young men two choices. If they are truly ready for the NBA, or if they need the financial support that comes with playing professionally, they should be able to declare for the NBA at 18. If they genuinely want the college experience, they should sign a two-year commitment to a university.
Although a two-year commitment is a far cry from actually earning a college degree, it does allow college basketball players to at least get a taste of the tangible benefits of higher education. The tangible benefits include improved academic performance as many more would be motivated to meet the rigors of their academic work -- even if only for eligibility purposes. If a player opts to declare for the NBA draft after one year, he does not have to be concerned with even the spring semester of his first year. They also will be exposed to more professors and courses, which might prove to be useful should they decide to complete their degree later in life after their professional careers or eligibility ends.
I came across the story of University of Hawaii football coach Greg McMackin’s bad behavior a little late, which in this era of the 24-hour news cycle was approximately one day. This meant I was reading editorials rather than breaking news stories. What struck me most -- initially -- about the coverage of the incident was that I could not actually find the details of the incident itself. It took me quite a long time -- at least 10 minutes, which, in high-speed internet time, is a lengthy period -- to find out exactly what McMackin said. I saw phrases like “gay slur,” “term offensive to gay people,” “derogatory term used against gay people.” But what was it? What had he said? I couldn’t even find the context of his statement right away.
But after several Google searches, I ended up on a sports blog not known for mincing words -- theirs or McMackin’s. It was the f-word -- the other one -- used in reference to the chant the University of Notre Dame football team does before games, in particular before their bowl game last year when they beat the University of Hawaii. Laughter erupted during the press conference when McMackin called the ritual a “faggot dance.” Oh, wait, am I not supposed to use the word? McMackin used it three times seemingly knowing each time he said it that he was digging himself deeper. (A recording may be found here.)
It is, as Wikipedia will tell you, a “highly pejorative term.” But what kind of understanding are we creating when we cannot even talk about the situation without using abstractions? The laughter from the reporters in the press conference and the subsequent erasure of the word and the details by most media outlets suggests that most know there is something wrong with the word. But what exactly it is remains more ambiguous. I hear people asking how “faggot” compares with other derogatory words -- most notably the “n-word.” This is not the most productive discussion, either. Hierarchizing oppression and the history of oppressed peoples does not often create awareness or engender social change.
Some might argue that punishing McMackin by suspending him and cutting his $1 million+ salary will not either. But McMackin is being punished -- and rightly so -- because he is a university employee and his employer has a code of conduct. But no one should be shocked that a university employee would utter such a word. Or rather, we should not be surprised that McMackin uttered it. This is not a personal attack -- I don’t know him. But, as the football coach, he is not really part of university culture in the way that, for example, an economics professor or residence hall director is. McMackin is part of football culture. And in football culture, even football culture that exists within a university setting, homophobic comments are commonplace -- and accepted, even today, and even as most know that "faggot" is a derogatory term. And that is part of the reason for the laughter: an awkward collision of cultures.
In high school I played tennis on courts adjacent to the football team’s practice field. And thus I and my teammates were privy to all the anti-gay terms (allegedly used for encouragement) offered by the head coach, who was also a physical education teacher at the school. No one said anything. Not even the coaches of my team -- also school employees. That was over a decade ago. But I doubt the situation has improved much. The mistake McMackin made was saying faggot in public and directing it toward an opposing team. But it is likely that he has used it before in less public settings. A press conference is not the first place one tries out a word like that. But even if he has not, he has heard someone say it; and so have all his players. And so have the players for Notre Dame. In fact, it would be difficult to find a football player or a coach who has not at least heard the word faggot used during games or practices or locker room talk.
McMackin will undergo some form of sensitivity training as part of his punishment. It is unfortunate that learning about hateful language and diversity and tolerance is couched as punishment these days -- that colleges and schools bring in the diversity trainers to athletic departments when someone behaves badly. This cultural divide that exists within university settings between athletic departments and everybody else is not productive.
There is an assumption that all non-athletic department university employees are enlightened and those within athletic departments are uneducated and small-minded. Neither assumption is true, but to the extent that colleges and universities care about the cultures of all their departments with regard to basic tolerance, they shouldn’t be looking the other way at what goes on regularly, without being recorded at a press conference. In short, universities are not necessarily doing the best job talking about these issues either. Again, there is a “we know it’s wrong, but we’re not quite sure why” kind of mentality that actually impedes productive discourse about discrimination generally and homophobia specifically.
This is not to say that the University of Hawaii, or any other university that has experienced something similar, has done the wrong thing in mandating diversity training after such an incident. Rather, I mention it as my own little attempt to eradicate the “us versus them" mentality that is at the core of this and other instances of discrimination and hate speech.
My hope is that McMackin is able to take something from the learning experience he is being presented with rather than resent the way it has arisen. But he must also pass on what he learns to his players, to his assistant coaches, to his recruits -- heck, he might even teach those reporters in the room with him something by the time he is done. He, like all coaches, must be a leader. And he, like other members of the university community of which he is a part, must adhere to, as well as set, a standard for behavior.
Kristine Newhall is a Ph.D. candidate in women’s studies at the University of Iowa and one of the authors of Title IX Blog.
"I was really worried about coming out as transgender to anyone else because I knew there weren’t any policies. I was so afraid that my school would ban me from my sport and that was the only thing I had at the time. I finally decided to come out my senior year of college because I was going down a slippery slope and I didn't think I could pull myself out if I didn't come out."
--A transgender former college athlete
Many transgender athletes relate similar experiences that make their participation on college teams painful and frustrating: An athlete is called "she/he" and "it" by opposing players during a game. An athlete stops playing sports in college because it becomes too uncomfortable to use the locker room. An athlete has to change clothes in a utility closet separate from the rest of the team. An athlete quits the team because it becomes too painful to keep reminding coaches and teammates about the athlete's preferred pronouns. None of the institutions or athletic conferences in which these athletes compete have a policy governing the inclusion of transgender student-athletes on sports teams.
These descriptions and many others like them characterize the experiences of many young people who identify as transgender and want to play on their colleges' athletic teams. Transgender is a broad term used to describe the experiences of people whose gender identity and expression do not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Some people transition to live as their preferred gender by changing their names and the pronouns they use to refer to themselves. They express their preferred gender through choice of clothes, hairstyles and other manifestations of gender expression and identity. Some transgender people undergo reconstructive surgery or take hormones to make their bodies more congruent with their internal sense of themselves. Others do not.
Since the increased visibility of a transgender rights movement in the 1980s and a school-based LGBT "safe schools" movement in the 1990s, more young people have the language and information they need to identify the gender dissonance they experience between the sex they were assigned at birth and the gender identity that they know to be true for them. They are increasingly identifying themselves as transgender and they are doing it at earlier ages. In addition, parents are much more likely to support their transgender children and advocate for them in schools. As more states add "gender identity and expression" to non-discrimination legislation and as these legal protections are applied to schools, transgender students and their parents have increased leverage to ensure that educational institutions address their needs. K-12 school and college educators find themselves playing catch up as they learn to accommodate the educational needs of trans-identified students and protect them from bullying and harassment in school or at college.
Many of these young people want to play on their schools' or colleges' sports teams. As a result, athletic directors and coaches increasingly find themselves unprepared to make decisions about what team a transgender student is eligible to play for. As the number of transgender students who want to play on school sports teams increases, school athletic leaders must identify effective and fair policies to ensure their right to participate. Though the issue of accommodating the needs of transgender students, staff and faculty in higher education has received attention, it has not been adequately addressed in athletics. Many colleges have changed policies on access to bathrooms, residence halls or face controversy because they have not done so. In athletics, conversations about accommodating transgender students have only recently begun.
For the most part, athletic teams at high schools and colleges are segregated by sex and divided into men’s and women’s teams. For transgender students, determining on which gender’s team, if any, they will be allowed to play can be a difficult process fraught with misconceptions, ignorance and discrimination. Few high school or collegiate athletic programs, administrators or coaches are prepared to address a transgender student’s interest in participating in athletics in a systematic, fair and effective manner. Few athletes have been given the information that would prepare them to participate on a team with a teammate whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.
The vast majority of school athletic programs have no policy governing the inclusion of transgender athletes and athletic staff have no idea how to accommodate a transgender student who wants to play on a college sports team. Even basic accommodations can be confusing, such as what pronouns or name to use to refer to that student, where that student should change clothes for practice or competition, what bathroom that student should use, or how to apply team dress codes.
Washington is the only state that has a policy identifying the process for enabling transgender students to participate in high school athletics. The National Collegiate Athletic Association does not prohibit transgender students from participating in NCAA sponsored events, but recommends that NCAA member institutions use a student’s official identity documents (birth certificate, driver’s license or passport) to determine whether a student-athlete is eligible to compete on the men’s or women’s team. Because of wide variations in state requirements for changing identity documents, however, the NCAA recommendation unintentionally creates an inequitable situation depending on where the student is enrolled.
Applying the 2004 International Olympic Committee policy governing the participation of transsexual athletes in IOC sanctioned events to collegiate athletics is problematic for a number of reasons. The IOC policy, though pioneering, is criticized by knowledgeable medical experts and transgender advocates for requiring genital reconstructive surgery as a criterion for eligibility. Moreover, applying the IOC policy to collegiate sports does not take into account the eligibility limits placed on individual athletes or the age and developmental needs of this age group.
After a number of informal discussions with collegiate athletic leaders and transgender students who want to participate in sports, the National Center for Lesbian Rights Sports Project and the Women’s Sports Foundation initiative, It Takes A Team! joined forces to organize a national meeting on these topics in the fall. Two of the guiding principles for the discussion were 1) Participation in interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics is a valuable part of the education experience for all students and 2) Transgender student-athletes should have equal opportunity to participate in sports.
The 40 participants, including representatives from the NCAA and Interscholastic High School Athletic Association leaders, were an impressive group of experts from a range of disciplines — law, medicine, sports, advocacy, and athletics — all of whom share an interest in transgender issues. The goals were to identify best practices and develop model policies for high school and collegiate athletic leaders to ensure the full inclusion of transgender student-athletes. A report will be issued in 2010 outlining specific recommendations for high school and collegiate athletic programs.
Specific issues discussed included:
From a medical perspective, what are the salient factors that should be used to determine for which team (women’s or men’s) a transgender student is eligible to participate?
From a policy and school regulation perspective, how can we develop policies governing the participation of transgender students in athletics that adhere to state and federal laws protecting students from discrimination based on gender identity and expression?
From an athletic perspective, how can we address concerns about "competitive equity" or "unfair advantage" while acknowledging the broad diversity of performance already exhibited within both women’s and men’s sports?
From an education perspective, how can we ensure that athletic administrators, staff, parents of athletes and student-athletes have access to sound and effective education related to the participation of transgender students in athletics?
In our forthcoming report, we provide recommendations to address each of these questions.
The most powerful information came from the transgender student-athletes in attendance, who detailed their challenges and triumphs and the importance of high school and collegiate sport participation. Their stories reinforced the necessity of developing sound policies and practices that enable transgender student-athletes to play the sports they love in an environment where their gender identity and expression are accepted as one more aspect of the diversity typical of school and college sports teams.
Pat Griffin and Helen Carroll
Pat Griffin is director of It Takes A Team. Helen Carroll is director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights Sports Project.
It’s unsurprising that the case of University of Virginia lacrosse player George Huguely — charged with murdering women’s lacrosse player Yeardley Love — has attracted widespread media attention: A Division I athlete accused of killing another Division I athlete is extremely rare. The last such instance appears to have occurred in 2003, when former Baylor men’s basketball player Carlton Dotson murdered another team member, Patrick Dennehy. Dotson is currently serving a 35-year sentence for the crime.
Yet in the mainstream media, none of the early Huguely coverage compared the Virginia case to the Baylor killing. Instead, the Duke lacrosse case, often presented in false or misleading terms, provided the preferred frame of reference. The Washington Post, after noting that Huguely had commented on the Duke case several years ago, recalled that the charges against the Duke players had been "dropped." (Actually, the North Carolina attorney general issued a public exoneration.) The AP, through ESPN, reported that the falsely accused Duke players had attended the same prep school as did Huguely. (Actually, only one did.) And Emily Friedman of ABC linked Huguely’s high school to the "2006 rape scandal" at Duke. She didn’t explain how the phrase "rape scandal" could describe an event in which no rape occurred.
The Post and the AP eventually corrected their inaccuracies; ABC has not done so. Seeing the national media link their names to an accused murderer because of events fueled by Durham authorities’ misconduct doubtless will fortify the falsely accused lacrosse players’ civil suit against Durham.
More important, the early reporting trivialized what happened to Love. Not only was there no "victim" in the Duke lacrosse case (because no crime occurred), but the local authorities committed massive misconduct to bring and then sustain the charges. In Charlottesville, the local authorities have acted responsibly; the behavior attributed to Huguely (in his own voice) is horrifying; and even Huguely’s lawyer has essentially conceded that a crime took place, though he has termed the killing an “accident.”
No handbook exists for how a university should respond to the killing of a student, much less a killing in which the accused is another student. And on this front, the Duke lacrosse case provided no guidance for Virginia administrators. At Duke, the lacrosse players from the start proclaimed their innocence, their lawyers made public considerable exculpatory material, and Durham authorities struggled to produce any evidence that a crime had even taken place. At Virginia, a crime obviously occurred, and according to police, Huguely confessed to forcibly entering Love’s room, shaking her, and “repeatedly” hitting her head against the wall. Huguely’s attorney hasn’t denied the police account, but has suggested that Love’s death was “not intended,” and thus, presumably, is manslaughter rather than murder.
Virginia’s athletic director, Craig Littlepage, wrote of Love, “In comments made by her teammates and friends, Yeardley was described as an ‘angel’ and the type of person who would light up any room. She was a dedicated student-athlete and a natural leader.” Littlepage added that “our primary focus now will be on Yeardley’s family and the young women and young men on our lacrosse teams.” He made no mention of the criminal case against Huguely.
Other public faces of the university, however, struggled to strike a similarly appropriate tone and balance. On the one hand, perhaps fearful of seeming to prejudge the case against Huguely, the women’s team Web page went two days before memorializing Love; the men’s team Web page still hasn’t done so. On the other hand, shortly after the arrest, Virginia's president, John Casteen, issued a statement that offered a tentative legal judgment — affirming that Love "appears now to have been murdered by another student." And later that afternoon, Virginia's executive vice president, Leonard Sandridge, appeared at a press conference with Charlottesville police chief Timothy Longo in which Longo, much more than Sandridge, upheld the presumption of innocence and reminded viewers that the facts were "alleged." It’s rather striking when a police chief comes across as more sensitive to due process than a prominent administrator from one of the nation’s leading universities.
One of the lowest points in the Duke case came when President Richard Brodhead rejected a plea from an alumni group to demand that former D.A. Mike Nifong respect the procedural rights of all Duke students. Instead, turning the traditional Anglo-American conception of criminal justice on its head, Brodhead announced in summer 2006 that he was “eager for our students to be proved innocent” at trial. (Several months later, after the State Bar filed ethics charges against Nifong, Brodhead publicly indicated his lack of faith in Nifong’s conduct.)
There’s no reason to believe that Casteen and Sandridge share Brodhead’s contempt for due process. But their initial responses to the Huguely case did indicate an indifference to the concept — perhaps unsurprising for senior administrators who operate in an academic environment in which due process is frequently honored in the abstract but not in practice. A glance at FIRE’s website can indicate the results, on issues ranging from speech codes to student “judicial” processes.
As an article in Wednesday’s Baltimore Sun discussed, the Huguely arrest also has revived commentary about the allegedly troubling culture of college lacrosse. Those criticisms have appeared in a variety of forms — ranging from an out-of-character tweet from the normally responsible Dan Wetzel to a lengthy article, entitled “Are The White Boys Of Lacrosse Predestined To Be Dicks?,” in the prominent sports blog Deadspin. The latter piece used spreadsheets to illustrate that "laxers can have a certain cadence to their speaking and a swagger to their step that can really rub people the wrong, assholey, douchey way." Neither Deadspin’s spreadsheets nor any other evidence has shown that lacrosse players are more likely than anyone else to engage in physical violence against people they date, much less to kill former girlfriends.
Indeed, those who make snap moral judgments about criminal cases do so at their own peril — as the Duke lacrosse case, perhaps better than any recent high-profile event, demonstrated. Less than a week after the first national media reports on the Duke case took place, former New York Times (and current Sports Illustrated) columnist Selena Roberts penned a column suggesting that the lacrosse team’s flawed culture explained their lack of cooperation with authorities (even though the captains had cooperated with authorities). Shortly thereafter, 88 Duke faculty members signed onto a full-page advertisement affirming that something had “happened” to accuser Crystal Mangum, promising to “turn up the volume,” and announcing that the affair “won’t end with what the police say or the court decides.”
As the case to which they had attached their reputations collapsed, both Roberts and the Group of 88 tried to rewrite history — but failed in their quest. Snap moral judgments, when made in print, are very difficult to undo.
Attacking Huguely now might provide an emotional release, but accomplishes little of substance, and certainly does nothing for the women’s lacrosse players who are dealing with Love’s death. The criminal justice system appears well-equipped to handle Huguely, and there will be plenty of time to condemn him if a court convicts. Beyond that, extrapolating from his behavior seems as likely to obscure as to illuminate. As U.S. Lacrosse board member Miles Harrison pointed out, it is “unfair for the sport of lacrosse to have any black mark against it because of the behavior of an individual.”
KC Johnson is a professor of history at Brooklyn College and author of Durham-in-Wonderland, a blog about the Duke lacrosse case.
Mark (pseudonym) walks into my office every day to practice reading and writing. He may be quick and athletic on the track, but in front of a book he is reserved and awkward. I am one of the learning specialists he sees, and when he first came to me, he could barely compose a full paragraph. Now, just a few months into his freshman year of college, he can write three-page papers that earn him Cs.
Mark will probably never be a Rhodes Scholar. He is not likely to attend graduate school and probably will not earn Latin honors as an undergraduate. However, as our few months together have shown, he is far more capable than his ACT score indicates. Because of his hard work and my colleagues' and my commitment to his learning, Mark has a chance to earn a college degree. He is on the verge of success, yet he is one of the athletes Gerald Gurney would have denied NCAA admission because Mark’s ACT score was too low.
Gurney brings up some important points in his Feb. 7 article, “Toughen NCAA Standards for Freshmen.” In college athletics, eligibility is often emphasized over student development. Consequently, coaches and support staff may be tempted to engage in academic misconduct to keep underprepared athletes eligible. However, Gurney’s proposed solution, to raise NCAA admission standards for incoming freshmen, would amount to nothing less than discrimination against the thousands of high school athletes whose urban and rural schools cannot provide them with the quality education they deserve.
Our college athletes are blessed with remarkable athletic abilities, yet as readers of Inside Higher Ed know, the vast majority of them will not become professional athletes. Thus, earning a college degree is their best chance to attain the kind of middle-class lifestyle most readers here find customary.
My fellow learning specialists and I are committed to our athletes’ learning, and we are trained and prepared to work with any athlete who comes through our doors, no matter how deficient his or her skills may be. Not all of them are success stories, but every year across the country, hundreds, maybe thousands, of athletes become the first in their families to earn a college degree.
If Gurney’s proposed solution were adopted, many of these athletes would be denied this opportunity. They would remain the high school superstars whose high schools could not — and whose colleges would not — provide them the quality education they deserve and, most importantly, are capable of attaining.
Academic misconduct may be a systemic problem, but the solution should not be denying admission to those most disadvantaged. Gurney is right to criticize the 2003 NCAA reform, but he is denouncing the wrong particulars. As Gurney’s predecessor Sandra K. Meyer suggested six years ago in the Phi Kappa Phi Forum, the problem results from the unintended consequences of the 40-60-80 progress-toward-degree policy.
According to this mandate, athletes are expected to complete 40% of their major’s requirements by the end of their second year, 60% by the end of their third year, and 80% by the end of their fourth year. Failure to comply means ineligibility. Consequently, while most college freshmen are sampling various classes and exploring potential majors, athletes are pressured to choose quickly the major of least resistance and stick with it. Athletes taking remedial courses, which do not count toward degree progress, feel this pressure most forcefully. The implied message is that eligibility is more important than student development.
When athletes are dictated which classes to take and when, as happens often, they become increasingly disengaged from academics, learning becomes all the more difficult, especially for the most underprepared. If there is a systemic problem of academic misconduct, it is not because too many underprepared athletes are admitted to college. It is because our institutions give these athletes the impression that classes are no more than hoops to jump through — the easier the jump, the better.
The solution is to prioritize student development and learning as high as eligibility. At the policy level, this means revising the progress-toward-degree mandate to allow athletes more latitude when exploring and changing majors. This does not mean returning to the time when athletes could take whichever classes sounded easiest, without any intention to graduate. A policy is needed that can hold athletes accountable for making progress yet is flexible enough to allow reasonable career exploration.
On the ground level, athletes must be granted autonomy over their own education. They must be encouraged to make academic decisions for themselves and supported along the way. Learning specialists cannot be the only ones emphasizing the student domain of “student-athlete.” Coaches and advisers need to communicate the importance of learning and development, too.
My fellow learning specialists and I have helped countless athletes become success stories. Our experience testifies to the fact that an ACT score does not reflect an athlete’s innate ability. However, our experience also testifies to the fact that learning can be either helped or hindered by the athlete’s educational milieu. The NCAA should maintain its admission policy but revise the progress-toward-degree mandate.
Where student development is a concern and learning is promoted, many of even the most high-risk athletes can succeed. Rather than shut out disadvantaged athletes from college athletics, we should welcome them into a culture of learning. Within such a culture, they will have a legitimate chance at success — without committing academic misconduct.
In college, the name of the game is learning. When advisers, coaches, learning specialists, and, let us not forget, the athletes themselves begin playing the same game, we all have a chance at winning. In this case, the prize is not just a trophy. It is the future well-being of student-athletes like Mark.
Bradley R.H. Bethel
Bradley R.H. Bethel is an assistant learning specialist at Ohio State University. His views are his alone and do not represent those of his university.