I applaud Steve Robinson for his point after (June 6) on continuing education for jocks. Young athletes should look for a college or university that can guarantee payment for the remainder of their education if they should fail to earn their degree within their eligibility period. Many major league baseball contracts now include a clause that guarantees payment for college courses during the off-season. And some young players negotiate lump sums to be used for their college education once their professional playing days are over. I think universities and colleges need to give serious consideration to Robinson's proposal. I have shown the essay to all of my cohorts at this college.
St. Mary of the Plains College
Dodge City, Kans.
I was impressed by Steve Robinson's clarity of thought as well as his conciseness. Interestingly. Bill Russell, one of the fired coaches pictured on the cover of the June 6 issue, stated in an earlier issue of SI (Success Is a Journey, June 8, 1970), "No college should grant an athletic scholarship unless it can also offer the guarantee that that young man will graduate.... If this assurance cannot be made, then the college obviously is insincere in asking the boy to represent it on the athletic field."
CHARLES S. WATERS
Once again, Joe Paterno and Penn State have demonstrated their enlightened approach to higher education and college athletics. They've joined the consortium of colleges and universities that have already agreed to finance former scholarship athletes who wish to return to campus to earn their degrees.
J. PATRICK HERALD
It's outrageous to suggest that colleges continue to pay for an athlete's education until he or she finally earns a degree. The student-athlete has already received four or five years of free tuition, room, board, books, etc., and has been more catered to than most students. When the playing stops, so should the free ride. If it's such a great idea for athletes to get free tuition after their classes graduate, why not demand the same thing for drama majors or members of the band? Why not? Because it's a cockeyed idea.
It would be grand if all student-athletes could earn degrees or, for that matter, if every person could earn a diploma, but the key word is earn. When I was in college ( Michigan, 1981-85). the athletes with the most exposure (i.e., those in men's football and basketball) generally treated school as an afterthought. There were some notable exceptions—Stefan Humphries (He Came Out Picture Perfect, June 4, 1984) comes to mind—but as I saw it, more time was spent at the bar than on the books.
College tuition is already beyond the means of many families. Why should the competent student have to pay even more to help foot the bill for a mediocre student? Most course loads taken by big-time student-athletes are laughable. Athletes on scholarships are given a tremendous opportunity, thanks to their ability to play a game. If they want to waste such a chance, a chance many students will never get, the choice is theirs.
TOLSON'S EXAMPLE (CONT.)
After reading Jill Lieber's story on former basketball star Dean Tolson (Never Too Old To Learn, May 30), I realized how important it is to get good grades in school. I am a high school student and play baseball and basketball, and I never really understood that not everyone makes the big time.
Dean Tolson said, "When I become a coach, if I see a Dean Tolson, I won't recruit him, I'll move on to the next kid. It's not fair to the kid or to the school."
I disagree. Tolson was given the opportunity and another chance. Why would he deny others the chance that he had? Why not try to show the kid where and how Tolson went wrong, so he can benefit from Tolson's mistakes? If Tolson wants to become a good basketball coach, he had better learn that sometimes you have to coach not only in the gym but in life as well.
RODNEY B. RAMSEUR
Woensdrecht Air Base, The Netherlands