Concerns in College Athletics

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With the NCAA Men’s and Women’s basketball tournaments nearing their respective ends, all eyes are focused on college athletics. Students in our Intro to Sports Administration course looked at college athletics this past week and some of the problems that have arisen around it. Take a read through a few of their comments below.

By: Christina Harris

Academic neglect in collegiate sport has spiraled so far out of control that the lines of priority has become blurred. Sports for many provided a gateway to higher education. It was supposed to be an added benefit to the poor whom otherwise may not have been able to afford to go to college. Athletics was supposed to “even the playing field” of academics by providing minorities with the same opportunities as white students. Conversely, somewhere the focus of education got lost in the bright lights of football fields and screaming basketball fans. Somewhere, the colleges and universities dropped the ball and failed student-athletes by shifting the focus from academics to athletics. By any means necessary, the NCAA have undermined education and robbed student-athletes of the fundamental requirements needed to be productive citizens.

Most college athletes do not go on to play professional sports and those that do, careers are short. Therefore, the ability to read, write and comprehend is essential to their time spent at a prestigious university. According to Mary Willingham, Sixty percent of the University of North Carolina’s football and basketball players read below the 8th grade level. After the lights fade and the cheering stops, what is left for the students that generated billions for colleges? Nothing. No secondary skills to fall back on and no compensation for the athletes who never go pro.

It has become a culture for athletes to care about sports more than their studies. The culture is within the schools and among the players. Therefore, new student coming in who want to make a good impression will adopt that same culture just to fit in and be a part of the team and school that is failing them in the real world.  Schools should be held accountable for not educating athletes at the highest level.

The NCAA should adopt a #StudentBeforeAthlete movement to show their commitment to students getting a proper education. We have become a nation obsessed with sports while the rest of the world are producing global leaders in technology and medicine. This way of thinking is hurting us all and needs to change for the sake of American culture.

By: Sydni Clark-Harley

O’Bannon Vs. NCAA was a supreme court lawsuit filed against NCAA in June of 2013. Ed O’Bannon was a former UCLA basketball player whose lawsuit sought to end the NCAA’s control over the rights to athlete’s names, images and merchandise without the proper compensation.Universities all over the country are able to sell collegiate paraphernalia displaying the athlete’s name, picture and other merchandise related to players without paying them a single dime.

Today, this is one of the most controversial topics that involve the NCAA and student athletes. “The NCAA as a whole makes $6 billion annually but the players themselves don’t see any of that money, even as they risk career-ending injuries every time that they step onto the court, field or rink.” (usnews, 2014). In fact, collegiate athletes are forced to wait until they turn professional to receive any form of payment for services rendered.

Wilkens, the US District Court Judge ruled, “the NCAA and schools are allowed to cap the amount, but it can’t be lower than $5,000 for every year an athlete remains academically eligible.” ( Solomon, 2014) Wilkens suggested that the compensation be put into a trust fund, but she did not stop the NCAA from enforcing its regulations and restrictions on the issue. After a five-year battle, in August of 2014 the ruling was over ruled because it violated the federal antitrust law.

The significance of this topic is the amount of money circulating throughout collegiate sports and how that money is distributed to the schools and athletic programs based on how well the athletes perform. It seems as though television sponsors, colleges and universities, as well as the NCAA are making a profit due to apparent free labor.

The O’Bannon ruling because of the on going conversation about college athletes and receiving compensation could impact the future of college athletics. In the future this could alter the way scholarships are funded, who can receive scholarships, and raise labor law concerns.

https://www.usnews.com/debate-club/should-ncaa-athletes-be-paid

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bdavidridpath/2015/09/30/this-just-in-the-ncaa-violates-anti-trust-law/#4a5d77f81099

http://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/qa-what-the-obannon-ruling-means-for-ncaa-schools-and-athletes/

By: William Wheat

Out of all the different topics brought up I find that athletics and crimes is the most important topic that needs to be discussed. One may be able to say an athlete accused of criminal activity and ending up with a clean record is not uncommon. Athletes who have faced charges against them or were named as suspects at the University of Florida were not prosecuted 56 percent of the time from 2009 to 2014.  From the many articles that I have read, top Division 1 schools are the Universities that you hear about athletes getting away with committing crimes the most.  As a college athlete I have learned that there is much more that goes on behind the scenes that a person who is not an athlete would know.

In the article http://education.findlaw.com/higher-education/college-athletes-and-crime-what-happens-when-players-break-the-l.html it talks about “college athletes who commit crimes are subject to prosecution just like everyone else, but they often face additional by college administrators and athletic departments as well”.  If a college athletic is accused of a crime they may be suspended from all activities while the investigation is going on.  Most times at Universities there is an extra judicial process for addressing an alleged violation of the code of ethics.  Or even more importantly a lot of the time the Athletic Director often decides the fate of student athletes.  From what I have seen from both high school athletics and college athletics, the Athletic Director and normally football or basketball coaches are really close.

Former Oklahoma University basketball player Darrell Williams was convicted of sexual battery and rape in 2012. Later on down the line the convictions was overturned due to improper actions by jurors. According to sources that were interviewed by ESPN, “head coach Travis Ford allegedly told Williams and other teammates to get their stories straight, in effort to protect the accused”. Officers from Stillwater Police Department stated that coach Ford made every effort to block them from locating Williams.  This is just one of the many examples of athletes being protected from crimes that they commit.

The article http://www.whio.com/news/crime–law/rape-charges-dropped-against-stanford-swimmer/m4XnVb2R9fcOlbvzgjIpPN/ talks about former standout Stanford University swimmer, Brock Turner that was charged with rape of an intoxicated person and rape of an unconscious person. Both of these charges were later dropped. “According to the Stanford Daily, the woman Turner is accused of raping gave a full recount of the afternoon and evening of the alleged assault, including what meals she consumed and what she wore at the part”. Based on my career in Law Enforcement I have dealt with cases where women have been raped and the initial report they told me one story, but when they went to testify more things were added to the story. That does not mean that person is lying at all. All victims do not remember everything that has happened right after, sometimes it takes time.  Athletes should be treated just like everyone else when it comes to committing crimes.

I believe this will impact the future of college athletics in a negative way. The more athletes continue to get away with committing crimes, the more they are going to think its okay to continue to commit them. For example if you are a store owner and you catch the same teenager stealing from your store once a month, but you refuse to call the police or contact the teenagers parents, the more likely he will continue to steal from your store, because he knows there will not be a punishment for his actions. I personally know a current NFL player who constantly got in trouble at the University he attended for public intoxication. He told me because he was an athlete he was never seriously punished. Four years later he plays for an NFL team and once again got in trouble for public intoxication. Only this time he was suspended and fined. He told me he wish he would of gotten a serious punishment back in college because if he did he wouldn’t be in the situation he is today.

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