The same principle applies in the case of medical care of athletes. The University doctor, not the coach, decides when a boy can or cannot play at Notre Dame. Another application of the principle might offend a few more experts, but here goes.
Most of the experts agree that there should not be a try-out of a prospective athlete before he receives a scholarship. But the same experts allow schools to grant a great number of one-year provisionary scholarships, so that the coach may try out many boys for a year and then drop all but the best. The poor goats who were king for a day are then finished with college or have the poor prospect of trying to obtain a scholarship at another school with failure already riding behind them and only two years of eligibility left.
PRINCIPLE WITH IFS
I do believe that if this basic principle of considering the boy and his education first were generally and consistently applied, it would automatically eliminate every major abuse in intercollegiate athletics. But the cynics still must ask: Can this principle be applied generally and consistently? Granting intelligence and moral courage on the part of most top university administrators, I would say that the principle can be applied with the following ifs:
1) If educators really believe in the importance of even one boy's life, and the impact of his total college experience on his life;
2) If there is such a passion for institutional integrity that no price can buy it, and all victories and achievements are hollow without it;
3) If directors of athletics and coaches are not unmercifully pressured for victories, remembering that after all, even football is still a game, and one side always loses, even though we must always play the game to win;
4) If directors of athletics and coaches are really brought into the family of educators, for they might as well be training horses in a ring if their work has no educational impact on the lives of the boys they coach.
In closing, I should like to mention one important point. My nonexpert attempt at assessing a rather difficult situation is meant to be constructive rather than critical of other people or institutions. Intercollegiate athletics are too valuable a part of American college life, too sadly missing in the educational life of other countries, to be ruined here by uninformed critics or falsified by sophomoric praise.