In yesterday's USA Today sports section (HERE), there was a great, all be it too short, article about how the US Secretary of Education wants to see colleges banned from post-season tournament play if they don't meet a target graduation rate of 40%.
This the same 40% that is 20 points below F level in most grading systems. However, 40% might as well be 280% if you are a school like Arkansas Pine Bluff (graduation rate per the USA Today story of 29%) or UConn (last year's "Sweet 16" team had a stellar rate of 25%).
Now why care? Seriously, it's just basketball, right?
Many of these "athlete-students" (which is what they are...rather than "student-athletes") were only able to attend college based on the ability to play basketball, and many are only an injury away from losing that opportunity to earn a college degree. In effect they are used by universities a revenue source that can easily be discarded if the need arises. What's more, isn't the mission of a university to educate? Shouldn't sports be a secondary, at best, consideration?
The news is not all bad, as many schools have relatively high graduation rates for athletes, including the 83% rate for Penn State's football players (citation HERE). This rate is on par with the general graduation rate for the student population as a whole. Notre Dame has had years where it's graduation rate has actually been 100%.
Let's end the charade that constitutes many big-time college basketball programs. The recommendation by the US Secretary of Education is a start in the right direction to make sure that the phrase correctly is "student-athletes".
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