Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Ethical Breaches Disgrace College Football and Basketball

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Ethical Breaches Disgrace College Football and Basketball

Article excerpt

The must-win mentality and relentless pursuit of multimillion-dollar revenues in bigtime college football and basketball continue to bring shame to these vaunted and beloved American institutions. In the quest of glory and rewards, some players, coaches, and administrators besmirch, even abandon, moral standards. The limelight and the cash prompt high-powered programs nationwide to engage in all sorts of unethical behavior. The result: a loss of honor.

Consider the extremes of recruitment. College coaches bombard athletically gifted high school seniors with more than 100 paper and electronic messages on the same day (University of Alabama coaches inundated a running back with 105 and coaches from University of Kentucky deluged a defensive tackle with 182). Marquee football coaches such as Alabama's Nick Saban and Louisiana State University's Les Miles make innumerable promises to impressionable 17- and 18-year-olds - not to mention to middle schoolers, including a 14-year-old linebacker and running back who was dangled a scholarship - telling the youth just about anything so they commit to the team.

Actually, top recruits often expect such enticements, having accrued them for years. Standout secondary school adolescents get equipped by Nike and Adidas at Amateur Athletic Union basketball tournaments; compete in seven-onseven summer football to showcase their abilities to college coaching staffs window-shopping for prodigies; fill rosters of travel teams that journey across the state in luxury buses or fly like business clientele across the country; and receive hype from media in all-star games sponsored by the likes of McDonald's.

No wonder the elite succumb to the ever-expanding lures. Extravagant examples include palatial locker rooms (University of Oregon's $68 million football center), logo-embossed high-tech physical training facilities (University of Nebraska), and luxury suite-surrounded stadiums and arenas (Alabama football and North Carolina State University basketball, respectively). Plus, strength and conditioning gurus, nutritionists, and sport psychologists attend to, even pamper, these athletes (The Ohio State University's athletic medical services and training staff directory totals 20 employees, and football has its own strength training and conditioning staff of five).

Other appalling truths: flaunting sex and alcohol works on enticing recruits (University of Colorado), while sex, drugs, money and other comeons to, as well as the practicing of academic deceit for, recruits and players increase the likelihood of winning (Oklahoma State University). Although a sport program's reputation soars when ranked high in attracting the best athletes, it plummets when "onc-and-done" recruits bolt to the NBA after a single season of college hoops (Kentucky) and when recruiting violations are exposed (University of Miami).

Whatever it takes becomes an awful refrain. Need someone to take your SAT or ACT test because if you did, the scores would be too low to be admitted into college? This can be arranged (University of Memphis). If after matriculation you're such a poor student that your sport eligibility is jeopardized, try masquerading as a scholar (as happened with a functionally illiterate player at both Creighton University and Oklahoma State), thanks partly to willful ignorance from the powers that be.

Student-athletes need not worry about juggling two full-time jobs (or doing justice to a wishful hyphenated term demanded by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and granted by the media). …

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