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Friday, March 17, 2006

The NCAA's List of the 100 Most Influential Scholar-Athletes Ever

In case you missed it among the World Baseball Classic, March Madness and ESPN's documentary on Sebastian Telfair, here's the list.

The criteria for selection are not listed, but suffice it to say that post-college success -- in sports, in politics or in business -- are major criteria. I'll bet, also, that you didn't know that eBay's Meg Whitman played lacrosse and squash at Princeton or that former Secretary of State Madeline Albright was on the swimming and diving team at Wellesley College. I'm sure you wouldn't have bet that the NCAA would have rated Donna de Varona, who swam at UCLA and in the Olympics and is a TV commentator, ahead of former U.S. Senator and Rhodes Scholar Bill Bradley, who hooped at Princeton and for the Knicks.

Any "Top 100" list will be open for criticism. The list of names is pretty amazing in its own right. Take a look and see what you think.


Anonymous Phil the Brit said...


My main criticism of this list is threefold.

First, it consists mainly of those who are either well-known to us but happened to have played at sport at a US college or those who were great athletes and have had some (minimal) impact beyond their collegiate and/or professional athletic careers. The exceptions to this stand out, such as Paul Robeson, whose influence in the sporting arena and the wider world were both noteworthy.

There was once a cartoon showing Jackie Robinson holding a shotgun and tentatively setting out for a hunting trip, with Jim Crow his quarry. As Robinson looks out to see which trail he ought to take, he sees it marked already by giant footprints bearing the name Paul Robeson.

Criticism number two concerns Vince Lombardi. Now, I know this man's legacy is controversial, but his impact has been immense. Number 67? Come on!

Finally, where's Jim Brown? Too hard core for the NCAA?

8:12 AM  
Anonymous tim in tampa said...

Bill Bradley really ought to be higher. I think they were too cavalier with adapting the balance of career and sports/college to suit their list. I'd have Jim Brown there, myself, too...

9:33 AM  
Anonymous NVA Ron said...

I skimmed the list quickly but was struck by the fact that Hobey Baker was missing from the list. Perhaps I am wrong. Baker was a legend at Princeton in hockey and football, and could have played professional but did not and died serving his country. I am not sure how many in this list really exemply the scholar-athlethe as he did. Also where is Ken Dryden who has had a multi-faceted career after graduating Cornell as a Hockey Hall of Famer, lawyer, broadcaster, sports team management and member of Parliament in Canada.

6:47 PM  

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