neuroscience professor John Bruno, the faculty athletic representative, points
to the TV-driven scheduling of games as one major concern. "Presidents
can't beat their chests and say 'academic reform, scholar-athletes, blah blah
blah' and then agree to the BCS schedule that made our kids lose a week of
class," he says. The problem is worst for men's basketball, the sport with
the most academic casualties. "Missing class is a way of life for kids who
can't afford for it to be a way of life," Bruno says.
Graham will go to
extreme lengths to minimize the damage. January's BCS title game coincided with
the first week of the winter quarter. Commandeering conference rooms at the
team hotel in Scottsdale, Ariz., SASSO set up a remote operation, stocked with
computers, course syllabi and textbooks. Eight SASSO staffers made the trip.
Based on their academic standing, 29 of the 121 football players were required
to attend the study tables. The rest of the team was merely encouraged.
"Especially when you're on a 10-week quarter system, missing the first week
of classes is a big deal," says Graham. "We tried to make the best of a
situation that was not ideal."
Graham's in-house figures, Ohio State's football graduation rate from 2001 to
'06 was 52%--a figure diminished, he says, by the large number of players who
jumped to the NFL in that span. Under the NCAA's new academic-progress rules,
which have raised questions on some campuses (page 61), the Buckeyes have shown
progress: During the '06 fall quarter more than half the football team had a
grade-point average of 3.0 or better. Since Jim Tressel took over for John
Cooper as football coach in '01, the cumulative GPA for football players has
improved from 2.45 to 2.9. "There's no question it can be hard dancing to
two different beats," says Graham of the conflict between athletics and
academics, "but once you find a rhythm, you can succeed."
ATHLETE | Teresa Meyer
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? Will compete in
2007 Pan Am Games in Brazil; harbors Olympic ambitions
?Fires off 250
rounds of ammo a week
YOU KNOW THOSE
silver-dollar-sized decals that adorn the helmets of Buckeyes football players?
Teresa Meyer has scads of them too. Except that hers are arrayed on the case of
her .22. They recognize the shooting prowess of Meyer, an ambitious,
irrepressible junior and captain of the pistol team, a coed consortium that
rivals synchronized swimming as the most obscure of OSU's 36 varsity
Though pistol is
not an official NCAA sport--it's governed by the NRA-- Ohio State has conferred
full varsity status upon it since the 1940s. The chance to be on the team was
the decisive factor in the college choice of Meyer, who began shooting as a
10-year-old in her hometown of Dearborn, Mich. "Some people here might not
even know we exist," she says, "but we get the same benefits as other
everything from Nike swag like polos and sweatshirts (under a deal worth $11.9
million over seven years, most of it in free product, Nike outfits the entire
athletic department) to preference in course scheduling, to full access to
training facilities, such as the hypoxic altitude chamber. Taking advantage of
a top-flight conditioning staff (the "speed coach" is 1996 Olympic gold
medal sprinter Butch Reynolds, class of '91), the 5'8", 180-pound Meyer
says she's lost 60 pounds since freshman year.