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Football and Academics?

Football and Academics?

~ Amy Lignor

You know what happens when you stand with or near a group of bullies…even when you do not do any bullying whatsoever? You are perceived as one. What happens when one school comes across as an institution of learning that lets people slide if they’re a member of the sports program? ALL schools are seen that way. Fair? Absolutely not.

 

Layout 1Integrity is a word that used to mean something. Even in sports. ‘Teams’ were about courage, bravery, understanding, aide, etc. Now? They look basically like a bunch of drunken, drug abusing, wife abusing – you name it – people, whose indiscretions are covered up by an all-powerful head ‘guy’ so that the sport can continue unharmed. Unharmed? Come on!

 

It has been harmed. The headlines are hideous when it comes to the football world as of late. And you know you have serious problems when a man like Barry Switzer (who may be a legendary coach in Oklahoma, but was a ridiculous sot for the Cowboys that made Dallas absolutely embarrassed), comes out and comments about conduct. Switzer commenting about conduct is as ironic as Madonna talking about being ‘like a virgin’.

 

Switzer actually spoke a few months back regarding how, with some help from a ‘friendly’ sheriff in his town/city, he could take ridiculous actions by his players and cover them up with no publicity whatsoever.

 

“I’d have local county people call me and say, ‘One of your guys is drunk and got in a fight and is in jail down here’. And I’d go down and get him out. Or, I’d send an assistant coach down to get his a** out. The sheriff was a ‘friend’ of the program. He didn’t want the publicity. He himself knew this was something we didn’t need to deal with in the media…”

 

Perhaps the sheriff also had a son in the program, or wanted tickets. Who knows? Whatever the case may be, football issues in college and pro atmospheres could be swept under the table far more easily than they can be now. Is that a good thing? Absolutely not. If a moron in college, chances are you’ll be a moron in the pros, and not learn your lesson before it’s too late.

 

Now, instead of someone hitting their wife or girlfriend and being fired from a pro team, we have what some people (certainly parents) see as a deeper problem. A report commissioned by the University of North Carolina says school academic advisers ‘steered’ athletes into sham classes over an eighteen-year period. Was it for a good reason? Are you kidding?? It was so they could play football. In other words, learning and getting an education really meant nothing, as long as you could run or catch a ball. These ‘sham’ classes were used so that the student-athletes could boost their GPA in order to keep them eligible for sports.

 

We complain about government scholarships and the fact that nobody gets help anymore, whereas, apparently, if you can work a field you can get as much help as you want without actually learning anything at all in order to pass and grab a diploma.

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People want to set this aside and say it’s no big deal; chalk it up as just another wayward piece of publicity for the world of football. However, this is academic learning. This is COLLEGE. Supposedly to grab that diploma you have to come out of college knowing more than when you went in – and that ‘more’ is not supposed to be how to cover-up, scam, or do something ridiculous in order to play ball.

 

From 1993 to 2011, Crowder, the longtime manager in the African and Afro-American Studies department (and then later by the department chairman) apparently allowed a student to write a paper of at least ten pages rather than attend lectures or meet with professors. The papers were graded by Crowder, who was NOT a professor, with the student typically earning an A or B+ grade. They could have written ‘Curious George’ and they would’ve gotten away with it. A student needed to maintain a 2.0 GPA to be eligible to play, which means ‘advisers that shall not be named’ pushed Crowder to make exceptions for athletes, including allowing them to enroll in classes after the registration period had ended.

 

Upon Crowder’s retirement in 2009, Julius Nyang’oro (the former chairman of the African and Afro-American Studies department), was pushed to maintain the program. His career came to a close when he was forced into retirement in 2012, charged with fraud for holding summer classes that didn’t even exist. (His charges were dropped when he agreed to cooperate with the investigation).

 

“The Crowder/Nyang’oro fraud marked a horrible chapter in the history of this great university,” said North Carolina president Thomas W. Ross on Wednesday. It sounded as if he had no knowledge whatsoever of what actually went on in his own hallways.

 

And… “Coaches knew there were easy classes,” but there is no evidence to suggest that coaches or administrators, other than those in APSPA, knew Crowder was grading the course rather than a professor.

 

Are the coaches in trouble? Not yet. Only four individuals who were implicated in the report were fired, with others under disciplinary review.

 

“When we find people who are accountable, we will take decisive action.” Bull!

 

Are you truly saying that the people in ‘charge’ of a university have/had no idea whatsoever that this was going on? That’s even scarier when you think about it. These are our kids – this is our money. And, frankly, football comes to a close quite quickly for many who try to take it on as a career. Only a select few become the superstars of the gridiron. So what happens if the football world doesn’t work out for you? Well…not a whole heck of a lot if the diploma you acquired means nothing more than a piece of scrap paper.

 

This is only one college; one academic program; one report. Yet, much like the example of the bullies up above, it will not take long for a whole lot of people to question the role of all university’s when it comes to providing real education to the students who just so happen to do well when wearing a helmet.

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