This week we look into sixteen Alabama sports teams stealing $40k worth of textbooks from the university, another prominent athlete in trouble with the law, and the N.C.A.A. placing postseason bans on schools that don't perform as well in the classroom as they did on the field.
Sixteen Alabama teams penalized
In the wake of Florida State’s lack of academic integrity comes another instance of a top collegiate program breaking the rules and consequently losing games they have previously won. Alabama athletes from sixteen athletic teams were caught taking advantage of their scholarships and providing non-scholarship students with free textbooks. As mentioned in the article, athletes on scholarship get their books for free. However, these Alabama athletes claimed $40,000 worth of textbooks and gave them to other students.
Clearly this is a situation that everyone looking in from the outside can see is wrong, but when you’re on the inside, it’s not always so easy a decision. You’re an athlete at a school and that permits you certain perks that other non-student athletes don’t get to enjoy: free schooling, free team apparel, trips around the country, and admiration from the rest of the student body. While these are great to have, the status of an athlete also brings several pitfalls; everybody wants something from you and you’re always under a microscope (even more so today because of the Internet). While getting someone a free book started off as a small and meaningless favor, it escalated into a large operation that ultimately robbed the school of tens of thousands of dollars worth of textbooks.
This is a type of situation that will be experienced by most athletes; people will come to them and expect things from them. The dangerous aspect and the one that must be considered by the athlete to avoid being overwhelmed is the pressure that will put on them to do what was asked of them. Athletes have a reputation and they have an aptitude to please fans, a feeling that comes in direct conflict during a request such as a free textbook. If you know what you’re getting into and you know what is expected of you, it is easier to respectfully decline and stress how much trouble you could get yourself, the program, and the school in.
Hoops star Frank Williams, brother arrested
Why oh why do prominent, professional athletes continue to put themselves in these situations? Is the salary of a petty drug dealer better than that of a professional athlete? Are the consequences of getting caught and arrested more appealing than poor performance? I feel like we’re beating a dead horse playing Monday morning quarterback with all of the dumb situations athletes get themselves into off the field. If athletes can stop and realize that the legitimate benefits of their athletic careers far outweigh the pros and cons of their illicit and illegitimate criminal activities, then our news and sports headlines can cease to be littered with the mug shots of our favorite players, and more importantly, our role models.
N.C.A.A. Issues Postseason Bans for Poor Academic Performance
It’s nice to see the NCAA taking a harder stance towards the first and most important aspect of student-athlete responsibilities. There is no reason a student-athlete should not be able to handle the duties of both a student and an athlete. They have tutors available to them, leeway from teachers and departments, and an athletic department on their side; their education is free or discounted so they should honor that investment by the school to see it fully vested.
There is a chance, though, that this will cause more schools and athletes to cheat their way through school in order to avoid the penalties of a Poor Academic Rate. Hopefully, this is not the popular choice among the universities and colleges, but it is definitely the easier road to take. Student-athletes should be held accountable to carry out the duties they are expected to follow through on: both on-the-field success, as well as off.
Another potential roadblock that must be considered to ensure that enforcement of this new reform is the appeal by the penalized universities. They may avoid postseason bans by appealing the sanctions against them and facing nothing more than a few lost scholarships. This can be counteracted by a little tightening of the belt during recruitment for a couple years, yet they will still reap the rewards of participating in the postseason and the sponsorship money thrown their way. As this is a new reform, there will most certainly be holes in the reform that will be exploited by teams, but it is a step in the right direction for the NCAA, and more importantly, academics in the sports world.
As always, this blog is for you so any comments or questions send them my way to firstname.lastname@example.org and enjoy this week's games.