Collegiate Athletes Under Fire

The arena of collegiate athletics is a very competitive and complicated world. College coaches are paid astronomical salaries, assistants are compensated nearly as high as their professional counterparts and their respective athletic departments are massive expenditures or money-makers, often depending on the institution. Either way, the athletic department often serves as the most effective vehicle in terms of outreach as well as visibility for a university.

In this highly competitive world, athletes are often admitted to universities and colleges with less superior grades than their non-athletic peers, and they receive scholarship packages that high school valedictorians can only dream about. Additionally, it has recently come to light that many student athletes are reading at fifth and sixth grade levels.

“I believe it. I had a kid in my class ask me what a noun is. That is the kind of thing you learn in elementary school,” junior business administration major Blake Hoffman said. In the world of higher education, having student athletes that excel both academically and athletically is the goal for any institution; however, in this day and age, that is becoming increasingly difficult.

Schools earn tons of money from their football programs. At the Division I level, programs that make bowl games can bring in millions to their school. That money has become so vital to schools, the colleges and universities will admit athletes who have far lower grade point averages and SAT scores than a typical applicant. The two biggest culprits are football and men’s basketball. It makes sense since those two sports are the largest in terms of potential revenue.

Not all students seem to be aware of this, however. “I’ve never had too many of the typical jocks in my classes. Most of the athletes that I meet in classes seem to be fairly intelligent,” senior psychology major Justin Leonard said. “So, I have no real way to accurately comment on that issue,” he continued. At the most simple level, the reason for this is the attention that athletes can bring to an institution. When Tim Tebow was at the University of Florida, he brought the school an unprecedented amount of attention. Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Florida State came under fire during the college football season because of his diction while talking to reporters as well as late in 2013 due to a potential rape case. He was not charged, but any press is good press. Unfortunately, that is the way college athletics are heading. Until channels such as ESPN stop pouring in the dollars for broadcasting rights, this issue will continue to perpetuate.

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