College Athletes for Hire: The Evolution and Legacy of the NCAA's Amateur Myth

By Allen L. Sack; Ellen J. Staurowsky | Go to book overview

6
Athletic Scholarships as Failed Academic Policy

The commercialization of collegiate sport invariably creates pressures to win that can easily compromise academic standards. When professionalism is added to the mix, education is relegated even further to the background. The granting of athletic scholarships subverts educational values in two fundamental ways. First, when students are recruited and paid to attend college primarily because of their athletic skills, it is very likely that some of them will have neither the motivation nor the aptitude to perform college-level work. Setting minimal academic standards for athletic eligibility has been tried to ensure that athletes are bona fide students. However, the effectiveness of such measures as the NCAA's Proposition 48 is highly debatable.

A second problem with athletic grants is that they give coaches inordinate control over the lives of athletes. When faced with the conflicting demands of sports and the classroom, athletes are likely to feel pressure to meet the demands of coaches who make key decisions about the renewal of financial aid. Although athletes with marginal academic skills are most likely to experience role conflict, even the best of students are likely to find themselves making academic compromises to accommodate the demands of sports. In an athletic scholarship system, there is far less of an incentive for coaches to accommodate to the academic needs of athletes than is the case when athletes are true amateurs.


COLLEGE ATHLETES AS ACADEMIC OUTSIDERS

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a major athletic program in the country that does not lower admissions standards for athletes, especially in

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