Categories:  'Education as an Economic Issue'   'Racial Inequality'  

Student Athletes Denied An Education

Universities will go to great lengths to preserve the athletic prowess of their top-tier sports teams - especially the "revenue sports" of football and basketball [...]

Universities will go to great lengths to preserve the athletic prowess of their top-tier sports teams – especially the “revenue sports” of football and basketball – at the expense of the athletes’ education.

For these so-called student-athletes, the universities they attend function more like minor-league sports teams than educational institutions – at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, basketball star Rashad McCants alleges that he made the Dean’s List in semesters where he frequently skipped class and had crucial papers written for him by tutors provided by the basketball team. Investigations showed that basketball and football players were regularly steered toward poor-quality and non-existent classes, courses that offered substandard instruction and earned student-athletes high grades with little to no effort, and high incidence of plagiarism.

While other colleges’ systems for keeping student-athletes eligible to play may be less egregious, this problem is by no means limited to the University of North Carolina – college basketball and football players across the country are caught in a complicated bind. For many athletes, their athletic prowess earned them valuable scholarships or even a full ride to college, but they must play to keep the scholarship, and pass their courses to remain eligible to play, even as practices and travel and games eat into their academic time.

The situation begs the question – is it even possible to be both a student and an athlete when college sports serve as the minor leagues for football and basketball in the US?

 

Picture: North Carolina players practicing in Detroit before the 2009 Final Four. Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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