Clean Up or Pay Up; Here's the Solution to the College Sports Mess
Barbash, Louis, The Washington Monthly
Clean Up or Pay Up
Tom Scates is one of the lucky ones. He has a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University, where he played basketball under the fabled John Thompson, one of the best college basketball coaches in the country, and one of the few who insist that their players go to class. Ninety percent of Thompson's players at Georgetown receive degrees, about three times the national average.
More than a decade after Tom Scates received his diploma, he has managed to parlay his Georgetown degree and education, his athletic skills, and the character he developed during his career in intercollegiate athletics, into a job as a doorman at a downtown Washington hotel.
Still, Scates is one of the lucky ones. He played for a good team at a good school, under a moral coach, and under a president, Father Timothy Healy, who believed that Georgetown was a school with a basketball team, not a basketball team with a school. He was not implicated in drug deals, shopliftring, violence, grade altering, point shaving, or under-the-table money scandals. He didn't have his scholarship yanked. He didn't emerge from school functionally illiterate. He got a job.
Many of the men Scates played against when he was at Georgetown, and their basketball and football counterparts at major colleges and universities, ahve not been so fortunate. Less than half the football and basketball scholarship athletes will graduate from college. And what education athletes do get is often so poor that it may be irrelevant whether they graduate or not.
In addition to corrupting the university's basic academic mission, big-time sports have been a lightning rod for financial corruption. College athletes are cash-poor celebrities. Although their performance on the field or court produces millions in revenue for the university, they receive in return only their scholarships--tuition, room, and board--and no spending money. They are forbidden from working part-time during the season. Athletes have been caught trying to make money by getting loans from coaches and advisers, selling the shoes and other gear they get as team members, taking allowances from agents, and getting paid for no-show summer jobs provided by jock-sniffing alumni--all violations of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules.
Things might be different if the NCAA would show some real inclination to clean up the college sports mess. But that organization has a well-developed instinct for the capillaries: instead of attacking the large-scale academic, financial, and criminal corruption in college sports, too often the investigators from Mission, Kansas, put their energies …
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Publication information: Article title: Clean Up or Pay Up; Here's the Solution to the College Sports Mess. Contributors: Barbash, Louis - Author. Magazine title: The Washington Monthly. Volume: 22. Issue: 6-7 Publication date: July-August 1990. Page number: 38+. © 2009 Washington Monthly Company. COPYRIGHT 1990 Gale Group.