Colleges with high-profile sports programs may say they put the academic performances of their players first, but a new study suggests that the organizational culture of those programs prioritizes athletic success at the expense of academics -- and that athletes are unfairly blamed for the academic failures that result from such a system.
In the study, to be published in the Journal of Higher Education, the University of California at Riverside's Uma Jayakumar and Eddie Comeaux interviewed and observed athletes, coaches and other athletics employees at an unnamed Football Bowl Subdivision public university. The researchers found that coaches "emphasized personal control and choice, deflecting the pressure of the inherent tension on the athlete." Even athletes who came into the program wanting to focus equally on academics and athletics found that it was difficult to do so with the 40 hours per week they were devoting to their sport, and thus shifted their focus to athletics.
According to the study, the disconnect between the athletic program's stated focus on academic support and what actually happens on the campus creates what the authors call "a cultural cover-up."
"Support services, coupled with state-of-the-art facilities and stated organizational commitment to academics, taken at face value, suggest that the institution is strongly committed to supporting college athletic success," the authors wrote. "This messaging lends itself to the perception that athletes do poorly in school because of inadequate time management and study skills, rather than the excessive time demand required (whether officially or unofficially) by their sport and of a culture that actually pushes them toward athletics over academics."
Some 30 percent of female medical academics have experienced sexual harassment on the job, compared to 4 percent of their male counterparts, according to a new research letter in TheJournal of the American Medical Association. A majority (59 percent) of women who’d experienced harassment said it hurt their confidence in themselves as professionals, and 47 percent said the experiences limited their career advancement.
The study, led by Reshma Jagsi, associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan, is based on survey responses from 1,066 recent recipients of career development awards from the National Institutes of Health regarding their career and personal experiences. Women were much more likely to than men to report both perceptions of and experiences with gender bias in their careers. Common harassment experiences include sexist remarks or behavior and unwanted sexual advances, while a much smaller proportion of respondents reported experiences with bribery or threats to engage in sexual behavior or coercive advances.
The study notes that a similar 1995 survey found strikingly similar results, indicating more reform is needed. ”Although a lower proportion reported these experiences [sexual harassment] than in a 1995 sample, the difference appears large given that the women [in this new survey] began their careers after the proportion of female medical students exceeded 40 percent," it says. "Recognizing sexual harassment is important because perceptions that such experiences are rare may, ironically, increase stigmatization and discourage reporting. Efforts to mitigate the effect of unconscious bias in the workplace and eliminate more overtly inappropriate behaviors are needed."
Local police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have ruled that an altercation involving a black University of Iowa student last month was not a hate crime.
The Iowa student told police that he was walking in an alley in downtown Iowa City on April 30 when three men began punching him and yelling racial slurs. Iowa students criticized the university for failing to notify the campus of the attack until days later. Iowa officials said they did not learn of the Saturday incident until that Tuesday, when they were contacted by a television news station in Chicago, where the student’s family lives.
Iowa City police said this week that, after reviewing surveillance footage and interviewing witnesses, the altercation was revealed to be an "isolated incident that stemmed from an ongoing disagreement" between two fraternities. According to police, the student, Marcus Owens, was involved in three separate fights that night related to the disagreement.
"According to witnesses, the N-word was used by one individual at the time of the second altercation," police said in a statement. "This investigation was referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for review to assist in making the determination if this matter was defined as a hate crime. The FBI determined that the facts of this investigation did not meet the criteria necessary to be labeled as a hate crime."
In a statement released Tuesday, the family of Owens apologized to the university and the police department.
"Upon learning more details of the case, and while racial slurs served to fuel the violence, Marcus now knows that his account of events was inconsistent with police findings, in part due to alcohol being involved, his embarrassment at his behavior, as well as the injuries he sustained," the family said. "In light of this, it was concluded that this incident was not a hate crime as originally believed, but rather a case of excessive underage drinking and extremely poor judgment on the part of many people, Marcus included."
University of Iowa officials also released a statement, saying that "regardless of the outcome, this incident highlighted a level of fear and distrust on our campus that must and will be addressed."
Several former college football players from six institutions filed class action lawsuits on Tuesday alleging that their universities, athletic conferences and the National Collegiate Athletic Association were negligent in their handling of the players' head injuries. The athletes who filed the lawsuits all played college football prior to 2010, when the NCAA began requiring its members to have concussion protocols. The lawsuits were filed by former football players for Auburn, Pennsylvania State and Vanderbilt Universities and the Universities of Georgia, Oregon and Utah.
The NCAA was first sued over concussions in 2011. That lawsuit was then joined by several others, becoming a class action. Earlier this year, a judge approved a settlement in the case that includes the NCAA creating new safety protocols and providing $70 million for medical screenings for former college athletes. That settlement included no payments for players already suffering from head injuries, however.
Lorin Basden Arnold, dean of the College of Communication and Creative Arts at Rowan University, in New Jersey, has been appointed provost and vice president for academic affairs at the State University of New York at New Paltz.