(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Thursday, July 08, 2004

No Honest Man Can Rest Easy When . . . The National Association of Basketball Coaches is in Session

SportsProf thought that this only held true for legislatures everywhere, but a blurb he read in USA Today this morning on this topic was confusing or frightening, depending on how you look at it. SportsProf will allow for the fact that the article was only a blurb, so there could be a better explanation behind this issue.

The report out of the National Association of Basketball Coaches that has that group pushing for five years of eligibility for college basketball players given a stat they cite that indicates that it takes the average college kid 4.8 years to graduate. Well, I'm all for the five years of stipends if they enable a kid to graduate, and I'd support five years' worth of stipends but only four years of eligibility, so you can give the kids an extra year to finish up. That would make sense. After all, the kids are there to get a college education.

Aren't they?

But five years' of eligibility? With the best players perhaps staying for one or two years (and what of Title IX issues and the other sports -- shouldn't they get 5 years too?) And without any threat of loss of scholarships if somehow you don't have a minimal graduation rate on a rolling basis (and a meaningful rate that doesn't count transfers against you, but does count flunk outs and kids who are declared ineligible because of grades because perhaps they shouldn't have gone there in the first place). Imagine what the schools with 15% graduation rates can do with five years' of eligibility for their players? The possibilities are endless. Some could be good, and some could be awful, and no doubt there will be petitioning for sixth and seventh years (analagous to the petitioning for fifth and sixth years now) under special circumstances (Danny Earl's back, Evan Eschmeyer's feet). College indefinitely? Neat concept.

SportsProf wants to know more on this topic, because there are some well-intentioned coaches among this group. Well-intentioned men who make a lot of money and who view themselves as not only coaches, but educators as well. In their minds, it could well be that by getting this proposal through the NCAA they'll move the roles closer together. But until the fine print is revealed, it also could be that they are becoming more coach-educators than educator-coaches, the way they could be making their scholar-athletes who are there on the "seven years of college down the drain" deal "athlete-scholars", which many of them are already.

Because, after all, the purpose of a college education is to open up people's minds to great, wonderful possibilities, to broaden their horizons so that they call can help make their worlds a better place. Not necessarily to spend scholarship funds to give a kid an extra year. To read about a true educator, click here and scroll down to the July 7 posts, where SportProf's friend TigerHawk, speaks eloquently of his late father, a college professor.

And then think about what a college education (and college experience) should mean to every kid.

Sports has its place, and college sports for the most part are fun. But when is enough enough?


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