i Be the Change | College Writing: Debate(s) In Higher Education
21. November 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Blog Post 3

Morgan Tollard

Many student athletes, specifically division 1 athletes, receive scholarships and grants due to their athletic abilities and eligibility to play on a team. Respectively, college athletes pursue sports under the NCAA, National Collegiate Athletic Association, organization. Through this program, student athletes are able to train, practice and play like professional athletes. Although the NCAA provides experience and assists some student athletes in the possibility of becoming professional athletes, the student athletes go through high amounts of stress and mistreatment, and have the weight of trying to pay off student loans, while still having to balance school and sports. The NCAA contains a corrupt financial system surrounding their student players and coaches.

It would be fair to argue that NCAA benefits the student athletes, for instance Brad Wolverton argues that the NCAA program allows student athletes to grow in character and build strong religious relationships with not only their teammates, but their coaches as well.  However, student athletes are reporting mistreatment from their coaches, not strong connections. This standard leads to student athletes to be put under large amounts of stress, in fear of disappointing their coaches. This is shown throughout Allie Grasgreen’s  article, which provides a testimony of a softball player, Carole Oglesby. Oglesby, a top athlete on the team, was recalled from a game over personal issues with her coach. Through this opening example, Grasgreen also points to another accused University within the article. A Boston University women’s basketball coach, Kelly Greenberg, is facing accusations against emotional abuse, after four players left the team this year, and one player claimed to have even triggered suicidal thoughts. Throughout the US there is a trend of mistreatment between the athletic students and their coaches, who are supposed to be role models. This mistreatment leads students to be out under tremendous amounts of stress and in some cases have thoughts of not only leaving the team, but thoughts of self-harm.

Student athletes not only go through stress with the hostile atmosphere of practice and games, but outside the sport as well. Student athletes have the added task of being a college student, as well. Balancing school work and athletic schedules becomes an issue as well. Throughout the week, college students are expected to not only attend classes, but complete homework, projects, and papers while looking over lecture notes. These are huge responsibilities set for students to succeed in class. These expectations set for college students require time and effort to be put into them, but if the higher education student is also an athlete, they are expected to balance all class responsibilities completed and finished while demanding large amounts of time to be set aside for practices, weightlifting, and games. In John Oliver’s video on NCAA, many athlete video clips were shown of student athletes describing their daily schedule and how much was blocked out for sports and how much blocked out for academics. Almost all athletes stated that their schedules were centered around sports, not school work. This demand of prioritizing sports as first, creates a time management imbalance for athletic students. Athletic students aren’t able to put their academics and school work before their athletic duties.

Through all these factors collegiate student athletes are being treated like professional athletes, and are held to very similar standards as professional athletes, but aren’t being rewarded for it in exchange. The NCAA is a billion-dollar industry and can afford to pay their student athletes, but choose not to. This is exemplified through Samuel DeVoe’s article, “College Athletes Deserve to Be Paid”. DeVoe states, “Without the players, there is no billion-dollar television contract. Take, say 20%, of the combined $11.3 billion and the NCAA is left with roughly $2.6 billion to pay the athletes. That is all money generated by the players. Not money the students are paying in their tuition, not a ‘student’ stipend used to pay athletes. It is a simple solution and the NCAA avoids a PR nightmare.” Though the student athletes are being held to professional athlete standards and are generating money for the NCAA, they aren’t being rewarded with anything but “experience” and a “free ride” to college.

Some would say that these acts of mistreatment towards student athletes impact division 1 student athletes only, as shown in a letter written to the editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education paper by Zak Ivkovic. Ivkovic, Executive Director of CUNY Athletic Conference, argues that division 3 student athletes can’t be compared to division 1 athletes due to the difference in how each athletic program is ran, yet division 3 athletic students are still dealing with many of these factors. Although Division 3 athletics are rapidly growing, as shown in Dennis Berkey’s article, the stresses of practicing in division still exists, not matter how the athletic program is ran. Division 3 athletic students still have the struggle of balancing school and sports.

This corrupt cycle of financial stability throughout the NCAA could be stopped, through colleges and universities simply the organization. C. Thomas McMillen explains in his article “Eliminate the Profit Motive,” that the NCAA is blatantly disregarding their financial issues, and hold no power to ignore these issues. McMillen argues that the most simple solution is to have conferences and colleges leave the NCAA organization. Through this the organization would struggle financially and only the richest of programs would survive, but McMillen explains this will never happen due to no one wanting to change. The coaches and administrators would have their salaries at stake, lending them to be objective towards change. Though the corrupt financial cycle of the NCAA is unsettling, there is a simple solution to terminate it. It is through this, that the NCAA is corrupt and needs to be stopped. Colleges and universities need to leave the NCAA and their programs to stand up for what is right, even at the expense of losing financial help.

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