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THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL
John Underwood
May 19, 1980
The rash of phony transcripts and academic cheating spells out the fact that athletics are now an abomination to the ideals of higher education. Victims: the student-athletes. Culprits: the system and those who run it
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May 19, 1980

The Writing Is On The Wall

The rash of phony transcripts and academic cheating spells out the fact that athletics are now an abomination to the ideals of higher education. Victims: the student-athletes. Culprits: the system and those who run it

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6) Make it mandatory that an athlete attend classes and not just be enrolled during the season of his sport. If he is in an area of study deemed especially difficult and time-consuming (pre-med, engineering), allow him to carry a reduced course load, but do not permit him to "drop out" while he is engaged in intercollegiate competition.

7) Establish a formula to restrict scholarships when a university shows a low rate of graduation for its student-athletes. If, say, the football team has less than a 50% graduation rate, permit the coach to recruit only the number of athletes equal to the number just graduated. When the graduation rate climbs back to a predetermined minimum, permit him to resume normal recruiting.

8) Bar a school from competing in postseason play or receiving television revenues if the flunk-out rate is greater than the academic attrition rate of its student body as a whole. Thus, if the college graduates 60% of the students who enroll, the athletic department must show that 60% of all its athletes—not just those who make it through to their senior year—also graduate.

Administratively, the following could be tried:

1) Remove all matters of eligibility and normal progress from the hands of coaches—for their sake as well as that of the athletes. Make it mandatory for all schools to be members of the National Academic Athletic Advisers' Association. At the Division I level, require that the adviser at each institution not be paid by the athletic department and that he be answerable to the president's office, not the coach's.

2) Establish "educational insurance privileges" for each scholarship athlete to allow him to come back and finish his education when a career in professional sports hasn't panned out. Place time limits on these privileges to make the athlete aware of the urgency of getting an education.

3) Work out agreements with the pro leagues to include a clause in standard contracts stipulating that his team will help finance the continuation of an athlete's education if he is cut. Make the funding payable directly to the university of the athlete's choice.

4) Give coaches tenure when they have had enough time to prove themselves so that their jobs aren't always on the line and they aren't so desperate to win—and, therefore, cheat. Give their assistant coaches tenure, too, and put them to work in other areas of the university during the off-season so that if there is a head-coaching change, they will have some job security.

5) Require schools to provide the NCAA with up-to-date statistics on the true graduation rates of their athletes, broken down by majors, sport and socioethnic backgrounds.

6) Conduct a study of junior-college curricula and academic standards. Draw up a list of those that meet qualifications for sending student-athletes to four-year schools. Limit the use of extension and correspondence courses to those offered by a student-athlete's own school.

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