THE SHAM AND THE SHAME (CONT.)
Regarding John Underwood's article on the student-athlete hoax (Special Report: The Writing Is on the Wall, May 19), it is amazing to me that although much has been written on this subject, little is being done to stop corruption in college athletics.
I am a graduate of a major Southwestern university, and I know firsthand of some of the excesses that occur when it comes to achieving "the winning spirit." I took classes that are described as " Mickey Mouse" and, indeed, many of them were—not because their content was not academic or useful, but because those "taught" by coaches were often farces. Of course, there were coaches who were very competent teachers, but some never showed up in class (an assistant did the teaching) and others required us students to "help out" at meets or games. The athletes in the "major" sports always seemed to get A's. These kinds of practices have obviously been going on for years, as I graduated in 1967.
The point is that good courses in the theory and practice of coaching are needed so that the next generation doesn't have the idea that winning is everything.
Whenever I give money to my alma mater, I always specify that it go to the library. This way I can be assured that the athletic department won't get its hands on it, and athletes who don't belong in the university will certainly not benefit, because the library is one place you'll never find them.
I'm black, 6'10" tall and from Los Angeles. I attended four high schools in three years in pursuit of my dearest and biggest dream—becoming a professional athlete. I have just participated in four years of basketball competition at the NCAA Division I level, yet the dream will not come true.
After reading your article by John Underwood, I wondered: Am I to comprehend what was written? Do I actually have the ability to write this letter? According to your article, I have less than a 50% chance. My situation was no different than that of anyone else you spoke of in that article concerning the classroom. I just thought I'd let you know.
Boise State University
In my 12 years as a secondary-school teacher, I have seen many of our young people fall prey to the student-athlete hoax. We teachers try so hard to get our athletes to see some of the pitfalls mentioned in your article, but they don't believe us. I pray they will believe you. I am preserving my copy of the article, and I plan to use it as a teaching aid in my high school and university classes.
JOLENE E. WALLACE
John Underwood's article should be mandatory reading for all school administrators and coaches at all grade levels!
John Underwood presents a bleak and incriminating picture of academic misconduct and exploitation of athletes by a segment of the nation's college coaches and university officials. As a college football coach for 12 years (at four major universities), I resent the implication that the coaching profession has no regard for the athlete except for his playing ability. The sports public should know that the nation's colleges and universities have hundreds of coaches, in all sports, who are committed to the present and future welfare of the youngsters they coach.
The academic welfare of college athletes has become more and more of a problem as public educational standards have declined and the value structure of our society has been drastically altered. Even so, with sound planning, reliable counseling, assistance from existing university sources and encouragement from coaches, a young athlete can overcome a poor academic background and establish a foundation for a productive future. College athletics has its faults, which can be corrected, but it can also take pride in the thousands of educated, successful men in our society who were college athletes.
Assistant Football Coach
Wichita State University