Issues in College Athletics, Pt. 3

In our third installment of Current Issues in College Athletics, two students in the Intro to Sports Administration course discuss two important topics from this area. Here are their thoughts:

By: Lucas Rains

If you ask almost any student-athlete that is in college, chances are they will use the phrase “I’m a student first, athlete second.” Well, that’s all good, but definitely not always true, especially in DI and at schools with histories of talent and winning. It seems as if kids are able to use college as a stepping stone to professional sports, which is great for them, but not the intended purpose of collegiate athletics. Grades are not as emphasized and often times fabricated in order to make sure high-touted players are eligible to play in the big game on Saturday.

In order to adapt to this new way that college athletics work, administrators and athletic directors have to change. The future of college athletics has been a hot topic in the last few years, with academics being a large part of the discussion, but things like compensation for athletes is also a big issue. One suggestion that Mike DeCourcy from Sporting News makes is to make sports an option for a student-athlete to major in. This kind of major would allow student-athletes to get at least some form of education that is specifically tailored to them, included lightening the traditional class load. The author says “It would, perhaps most important, acknowledge that their practices and performances have genuine academic value, in the same way that an acting class or a dance class does.” I think this suggestion is interesting and honestly, something I’ve never even thought of before. If these student-athletes are already dedicating most of their time and lives to sports, why can’t they make it their primary interest?

Going back to that “students first” phrase, a piece done by The New York Times’ Gary Gutting says that student-athletes do not put school first. The NCAA even says within its code that student athletes must put school first, but the NCAA’s own study in 2011 would explicitly suggest the opposite. The majority of “student-athletes” that play in big-time football or basketball, said that they devote more of their time to athletics and that their primary choice of school was more influenced by sports than it was academics. Addressing this issue is a tough subject because of the amount of money that is involved in college sports. A different solution than the first suggesting DeCourcy made would be to require stricter grade obligations to student-athletes and make them students first again.

Works cited

DeCroucy, Mike. (Jan. 14, 2014). Want to fix college athletics’ academic crisis? Three words: major in sports. Sporting News. Retrieved from:

Gutting, Gary. (Mar. 15, 2012). The Myth of the Student Athlete. The New York Times: Opinionator. Retrieved from:

By: Jeff Reardon

With extremely high expectations in collegiate sports, many athletic programs feel pressured to sacrifice their values and ethics in order to win games.  This multi-billion dollar industry in which fan bases and boosters only care about how many victories and championships their teams win has developed into a culture of winning at all costs.  With coaches and administrators being under constant scrutiny, the violation of recruiting regulations has almost become a norm in collegiate athletics.

While this is not a new phenomenon in collegiate athletics, the recent scandals at Louisville, Ole Miss, and Louisiana Lafayette have once again raised the question: what can be done to prevent these violations from occurring?

Coaches who use impermissible recruiting practices can be subject to a show-cause penalty.   A show-cause order essentially means that any NCAA penalties imposed on an individual coach will stick with him for a designated period of time and could be transferred to another school that hires the coach before the order expires.(USA Today)

While this seems like a fair punishment, there are a number of instances (Chip Kelly, Oregon and Pete Carroll, USC) where college head coaches resigned from their positions to take NFL coaching positions.  The university and players are punished with vacated wins, a loss of scholarships, and bowl bans, while the head coach comes out unscathed and in many ways better off.  Even in cases where coaches did not escape to the professional ranks and served their penalties, they can still be hired by other institutions even before the sanctions are fully served.  Such was the case with Bruce Pearl and the University of Auburn.  Pearl had served two and a half years of a show-cause penalty when he was hired by Auburn with five months of sanctions still remaining on his punishment.

While I do not believe coaches should be banned for life from the NCAA, I do think it is unfair that they are given a second chance while players who did not commit infractions are forced to choose between a career of irrelevance and transferring from the institution they chose coming out of high school.  I personally believe those individuals who are proven to have committed a violation (coaches and players alike) should be subject to sanctions, including possible dismissal from the institution.  However, I do not agree with punishing the program as a whole by instituting bowl bans or a loss of scholarships.  I believe if a coach was forced to serve the entirety of the penalty before being able to coach (in any role) at the collegiate level and possibly even the NFL, this could possibly serve as a deterrent.  Because the NCAA and NFL are two separate entities, this would probably never happen.

Another major but common violation during the recruiting process is the exchange of gifts (cars, money, etc.) between boosters and prospective student athletes.  “It’s just cash changing hands. When things are done correctly, there’s no proof more substantial than one man’s word over another. That allows for plausible deniability, which is good enough for the coaches, administrators, conference officials, and network executives.” (SB Nation)

This specific violation, in many cases, occurs when the prospective student athlete is on campus for their official visit once they have been released to their host player.  Many of the impermissible activities that go on during recruiting occur during this time.  As a way of eliminating these practices, the NCAA could end overnight host visits.  This does not mean eliminating overnight visits as a whole.  It just means the prospective student athlete would not be able to stay with a current player.  Instead, they would stay in a hotel with the parent or guardian who brought them.  With this being said, boosters would still likely find ways to get them the money.

I do not foresee many changes coming to the NCAA recruiting process in terms of stricter guidelines.  In fact, during my time as an assistant football coach, I have actually seen the opposite take place.  The NCAA has in some cases eased or even eliminated certain restrictions on coaches, especially at the lower levels (Division II and III) where there is less manpower to see that these programs are complying with NCAA regulations.  An example of this is the change in legislation allowing coaches to text prospective student athletes.  I believe this change could be coming to the Division I level as it is already permissible for them to communicate as often as desired through social media.

Meet the Bag Man. (2014). Retrieved March 29, 2016, from

Sports, N. A. (2014). The perception and reality of NCAA show-cause penalties. Retrieved March 29, 2016, from


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