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Student-Athletes Indeed

[ 129 ] February 20, 2013 |

Heisman winner Johnny Manziel’s class schedule:

Johnny Football still finds time to be a college student too, even though the Texas A&M star doesn’t have to be on campus very often for classes. His schedule this semester consists of four online classes in sports management, and he just got done with a series of tests and other work.

“Had my first round of tests last week, so I’ve been kind of pushing that off as much as possible doing my online stuff, and all three tests and three papers hit me in a week,” Manziel said Monday night before accepting the Davey O’Brien Award that goes to the nation’s top quarterback. “It was good to feel like a normal student again, just a busy one.”

Manziel was initially enrolled in an English class on campus this spring with only 20 to 25 students before switching his schedule.

Don’t get me wrong–I have no problem with the kid taking advantage of the system and being as little of a student at Texas A&M as he wants. But the entire deal is a joke, both the idea that a student can be a legitimate student by taking a bunch of likely bogus classes in whatever sports management actually consists of outside of easy grades for bad students although one would never graduate with a schedule like that and the fact that the NCAA makes football players go to classes in a facade that allows universities to profit off their unpaid labor.

Can’t we find a way to pay these kids in some kind of minor-league football system? No doubt, with the NCAA such a paragon of integrity and all.

Comments (129)

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  1. Eric W. says:

    Meanwhile Victor Oladipo may win men’s basketball player of the year while graduating in three years

    • Cody says:

      Personally, I was always shocked at the amount of engineers on Purdue sports teams. Usually most were not “stars”, but still surprising doing all the sports activities and still finding time to even go to class.

    • JKTHs says:

      Emeka Okafor and Kemba Walker had similar success and graduated in three years as well.

      • Bill Murray says:

        As did Alex Smith

      • Mondfledermaus says:

        I hope they graduating with a meaningfull major. Major in Recreation or Physical Ed. are not particularly challenging.

        • Bill Murray says:

          Well Smith’s degree is in economics, so not really. But he did it in 2 years not three as I said before. I think he was about halfway through a master’s when he went pro.

          Okafor’s degree is in finance (and he evidently had a 3.8 GPA). Walker looks to have graduated in sociology

      • elm says:

        And then there’s Myron Rolle, who took the full four years, but only because he was doing research in a lab and preparing for a Rhodes scholarship.

        There are a number of serious athletes who are also serious students. I have no clue how they do it given how much they must practice, work out, etc. I assume they have no social life, otherwise I’d be pretty jealous.

  2. 4jkb4ia says:

    That looks as if the pattern of basketball players having to be students for all of one semester has been inherited by the football players.

  3. owlbear1 says:

    I bet those “Sports Management” classes were created by the school to help the future sports star student avoid being taken advantage of by unscrupulous people.

  4. cpinva says:

    i read that as well. you would think, at some point, their parents or guardians would step in, and start asking questions, because not all of them are going to make the pro’s. in fact, very few of them are.

    • LeeEsq says:

      I suspect that a lot of willful blindness is involved and that most of the parents or guardians think that their kid is going to make the pros against the odd. Its kind of like how people view the lottery.

      • cpinva says:

        sadly, you are probably correct. i must have had one of the few honest football coaches in high school. he was a prick, but brutally honest, in terms of the odds of any of us making the pros, or even playing college ball. i remember the little speech he gave, just before the final game of the season, my senior year. he said that, for most of us seniors, that game would be our final, organized game of football, that most of us would never play college ball or be in the pros, and that we should savor the moment. to his credit, he wasn’t mean about it, just brutally honest. interestingly enough, two of those guys did make the pros, along with another guy, who played at our rival, just up the road.

        this same coach (along with most of his asst’s), had played college ball and in the pros, so he knew whereof he spoke. maybe more high school & college coaches need to be as forthcoming, on the odds of most players ever playing the game for a living. of course, if they were, they’d probably lose every kid who thinks he’s going to be the next RGIII.

    • dave says:

      Why? Either way their kid gets a degree. I know there are a lot of college professors at LGM but are we really going to pretend that obtaining the “college graduate” credential isn’t on its own, extremely valuable independent of whether a student actually learned anything.

      I am a lawyer. I loved college and learned a lot, but frankly, a vanishingly small percentage of the things I learned are actually useful in my day to day professional or personal life. Certainly, none if it was necessary to get into law school. All I needed for that was the credential. For me, the credential on its own was infinitely more valuable for my career than the knowledge I obtained. If forced to choose, I’d pick the credential every time. YMMV of course.

      • Jim48043 says:

        Spoken like a Kennedy.

      • elm says:

        They get a degree if the kid graduates. Not all of them do, even those who don’t leave early. And while a college degree is valuable, it’s value isn’t the same for everyone. People with no desire to get the degree and no desire to have a job that requires a degree are getting very little from that degree.

        Certainly, the scholarship is quite valuable to many student-athletes. For others, it’s almost worthless. Usually we allow labor to decide for themselves what to do with their compensation. In college sports, we force them to spend a large portion of it on tuition.

        • dave says:

          I agree with this 100%.

          My point is simply that the parents of a college athlete are goign to care a lot about their child obtaining the credential independent of the substance of the classes he or she is taking.

          My issue with the “studnet athlete” scam, is that our national fixation on the “student” aspects feels to me to be in no small part due to latent racism. No one is anguishing over whether music prodigies, actors, comedians, tech nerds, chess prodigies, or for that matter baseball players, skiiers, or hockey players, skip college to pursue their careers. We only care when it comes to the (mostly black) athletes in basketball and football.

          • labradog says:

            Think harder.
            Most student athletes wind up having no pro career, and with (maybe) a degree that is worthless. So they nothing in the long run, while the NCAA and schools rake in the cash.

            • dave says:

              I disagree that the degree is worthless. The credential itself has some value (which obviously varies depending on the circumstances).

              I completely agree that college athletes should be paid and that the current system really screws such athletes.

            • pseudonymous in nc says:

              Most teenagers who get scouted to play soccer in the countries where it’s the top professional sport end up falling by the wayside, and they give up formal education very early on — at the age of 16 or so. They do get paid along the way, though.

              The “student athlete” bullshit is the last remnant of the Avery Brundage-era myth of paternalistic amateurism.

              • actor212 says:

                16? Try younger. More like 13. Messi moved to Spain where Barcelona had a rare disorder he suffered from treated at age 11.

                Think about that: age 11, with no guarantees he’d make it AND a debilitating medical condition, he moves to Spain from Argentina for the chance to play in La Liga.

                • Mark says:

                  On the other side, Barcelona were willing to pay for hormone treatment which his family couldn’t otherwise afford.

                  In the general case though, the trade of underage players in soccer is something of a meat market though, especially from Africa. Pay for apprentice players is little better than subsistence.

          • My issue with the “student athlete” scam, is that our national fixation on the “student” aspects feels to me to be in no small part due to latent racism. No one is anguishing over whether music prodigies, actors, comedians, tech nerds, chess prodigies, or for that matter baseball players, skiiers, or hockey players, skip college to pursue their careers. We only care when it comes to the (mostly black) athletes in basketball and football.

            Indeed.

            “From the outside, from where you sit, it doesn’t look good. But just imagine their shock and grief. Last year their father/husband was an idol, a symbol of integrity in the deeply corrupt and smarmy enterprise of big-time college sports, author of the ‘Grand Experiment’ that sought to bring success with honor to dear old State. He was Saint Joe, a throwback to an era when football players actually took real classes and graduated along with the rest of their cohort. (Indeed, the graduation rate for Penn State’s African-American players has matched that of its white players; few football programs can say as much.)”

      • cpinva says:

        maybe the problem is what you majored in.

        “I loved college and learned a lot, but frankly, a vanishingly small percentage of the things I learned are actually useful in my day to day professional or personal life.”

        as for myself, all the basics i learned, lo these many moons ago, still apply. i was an accounting major, so i took lots of classes involving math, statistics, law, accounting, tax, econ, computer science, etc. the longer i’m in the biz, the more it all applies, on a daily basis. again, it could just be a difference in majors.

        • dave says:

          Obviously, if I became a psychologist, the stuff I learned as a psychology major would be (somewhat) useful. However, the substance learned in pursuing an undergraduate psychology degree is itself pretty basic and unhelpful in the actual professional practice of psychology/psychiatry. Most of that stuff is learned in graduate/medical school and mostly in actual practice.

          The same is true of law and other professions which require graduate degrees to enter.

          Obviously, accounting is different since it does not require a graduate degree and most of what you need to know can be imparted in an undergraduate classroom.

    • Bill Murray says:

      My niece graduated from a program that was fairly similar in outline to what Manziel is doing here, although my niece was not in sports management. Should her parents have been concerned about this? She got a decent job on graduation just before the depression hit and has kept it, so it worked out reasonably well

  5. alexander von humbug says:

    Except most universities don’t profit from their labor: The vast majority of DI athletic programs require subsidies — at least at state schools, which are required to disclose budgets. Those subsidies come either from taxpayers or other students. In some cases the subsidies exceed $600/student per term. Not $600 per student athlete, $600 from every student on campus every single semester or quarter.

    • dwreck says:

      Yes, many programs don’t make money, but a money-losing business is still expected to pay employees for their labor.

      I realize that the NCAA is desperate to maintain the fiction that football and basketball players in big programs are “student-athletes,” but it seems like everyone could win if the NCAA allowed universities to license their names to teams in some sort of professional, minor-league. Universities already license their names, colors, and logos for just about everything. There could even be some sort of requirement in the contracts that the team or university in some way subsidize tuition for the athletes, assuming they *want* to take classes. And this way, the money-losing universities wouldn’t be burning piles of cash on sports programs that have more to do with prestige — “we have a team, too!” — than athletics or academics.

      • And the latter group could organize their own sports teams in a true student-athlete fashion if they wanted to, while the top tier formed their own highly competitive revenue maximizing league.

        • dwreck says:

          Right. There are plenty of athlete-students who compete at club level in university sports, so a system of that sort more-or-less exists already.

    • John says:

      “DI athletic programs,” it’s worth noting, are not the same thing as “DIA football and DI men’s basketball programs.”

    • witless chum says:

      The thinking that underlies the system, though, is that if Texas A&M didn’t have a big time football program, many fewer people would want to go there. And donate there in general, not just to the athletic department. That’s where the university leaders think that big time college sports make economic sense for their institutions. It’s kind of hard to study, empirically, whether that’s a reasonable belief or not. Or at least it’s hard enough that university administrators will be able to convince themselves either way.

      I suspect it’s true at schools like A&M or Michigan State, where I went to school. Good schools, but not academic destinations in the manner or Northwestern or an Ivy or something. The prestige of being a dominant football program from the late 40s to the mid-60s definitely helped MSU turn itself from an Ag school to an honest-to-goodness university. I suspect MAC schools are just fooling themselves and places like Texas, Cal and U of M would be just fine either way.

      • elm says:

        I think you largely have this right. Flagship state universities in large states would be fine either way (they will always drawn enough of the top in-state talent whether or not they have a sports program.) But what sets MSU apart from CMU or Florida State from UCF or Pitt from Temple and so on is the presence of big time sports. It’s the #2 school in the state that ‘needs’ college athletics to become more attractive to undergrads (and donors) than the rest of the state schools.

        It’s possible that the MAC or Sunbelt schools similarly get a boost over state schools that don’t even have that, but I can’t imagine the boost is worth the cost of a D-I football program.

    • Monday Night Frotteur says:

      Wrong.

      Texas A&M made a $26 million profit off its football program in 2011, the year before Manziel’s Heisman and the program’s switch to the SEC. That number will probably be closer to $40 million in 2012.

      • ploeg says:

        Which doesn’t disprove the question at hand that most DI schools don’t make money off of athletics. Even the schools that make money off of football use that money to subsidize other sports. A lot of it goes towards training facilities that are at least nominally to be used by all sports, but that are primarily intended to wow potential football recruits.

        • “Even the schools that make money off of football use that money to subsidize other sports.”

          This is a bad thing?

          • Josh G. says:

            Look at the demographics: athletes in the revenue-generating sports (elite minor league football and basketball) are disproportionately likely to be minorities and/or come from less affluent backgrounds, while athletes in the revenue-consuming sports are much more likely to be from middle-class backgrounds and to be primarily focused on the degree rather than the sport. And that’s why it is a bad thing: poor blacks are being denied a share of the revenue they generate so that affluent whites can attend college cheaper (and in turn so that rich people have to pay fewer taxes to fund colleges).

            • Maybe I’m wrong, but I didn’t get the sense that that was what ploeg was driving at, but rather that all athletic programs are bad because the universities lose money on them.

              In any case, I don’t think that the fact that revenue generating sports subsidizes non-revenue sports and other student activities that can’t financially support themselves is a bad thing, whatever the demographics may be. Indeed, this seems fine in the context of a university and is basically the way most high school athletic programs work. The problem is the coaches, administrators, and conference/NCAA officials who are getting rich off of the enterprise while the student employees get nothing.

        • dave says:

          They “make money” of of athletics because (1) DI football and basketball are significant sources of attendance and concession revenue from students and alumni, (2) huge sources of revenue from alumni donations, and (3) huge marketing draws which encourage more and better students to attend the university which leads to more tuition revenue.

          • But more importantly: Who gives a shit if the gymnastics or swimming team turns a profit? Universities aren’t profit seeking corporations, and the idea that the efficacy of an offered program/activity at a university should be determined by what sort of profit it can generate is ridiculous. If anything, I’d argue that the fact that so many football/basketball programs are ruthless revenue seeking machines nestled within the confines of public universities is exactly the problem here.

        • Monday Night Frotteur says:

          That’s not the question at hand. What schools do with the crazy profits they make off football and men’s basketball players isn’t relevant. Build tall skyscrapers, subsidize womens’ sports that 15-20 people are interested in, perfect the couch, who cares?

          The NCAA schools combine in restraint of trade to keep millions of dollars that would naturally flow to football and men’s basketball players in a free (or unionized) market.

          • JustRuss says:

            Where is this “perfect the couch” research of which you speak being conducted, and do they need test subjects?

            • elm says:

              In East Lansing, they’re doing research on how to perfect the couch as a flammable object. Not sure you want to be a test subject for that study though…

      • JR says:

        And yet, they still didn’t make enough to break even. The athletic department still owes the rest of he university $20 million that was extorted a few years back, and is extorting untold millions more from student activity fees. A lot of that $26 million “profit” is the school’s own estimate of how much advertising they would have to pay to get the school’s name out there — not actual dollars.

        With a crappy footmaball team, the school averaged more than 45,000 undergrads over the past few years. Johnny and is ilk only bring in poor students. Send him and his friends off to a minor league and trash big-time sports on our universities. They are unnecessary and are a big part of skyrocketing costs.

    • Mondfledermaus says:

      Partly because they pay 7 figure salaries to coaches and sporting directors.

  6. Alan Tomlinson says:

    And all of this, with respect to football, so that a group of Americans can watch gladiatorial battles which cause permanent brain damage to the contestants.

    I think perhaps the NCAA may have considered that the legal liability of a minor-league system where the “students” are directly paid would actually increase their future civil and criminal liabilities.

    Morally, I find the idea of watching football to be akin to cheering a street fight.

    Cheers,

    Alan Tomlinson

    • bradP says:

      I think perhaps the NCAA may have considered that the legal liability of a minor-league system where the “students” are directly paid would actually increase their future civil and criminal liabilities.

      The term “student athlete” indeed came from a NCAA argument against a former player who was suing, I believe, for some sort of worker’s comp (or something of that nature).

      • mark f says:

        You are correct; I think he came from TCU. When worker’s comp questions arise, the NCAA lawyers argue the “student” side. When scholarships are stripped, the NCAA argues the “athlete” side.

    • actor212 says:

      Morally, I find the idea of watching football to be akin to cheering a street fight.

      With bad officiating.

      When the NFL became a penalty-flag festival AND a human demolition derby is when I stopped playing and watching. I used to marvel at the grace of a Lynn Swann or the raw power of a John Riggins, but these days, you’re lucky if they can step on the field for a few games a season.

    • GeoX says:

      But on the bright side, you DO get to feel morally superior!

  7. bradP says:

    Can’t we find a way to pay these kids in some kind of minor-league football system?

    Minor leaguers in other leagues generally get less compensation than college athletes.

    Having a minor league system may just lead to some players experiencing the extreme brain trauma of someone like Junior Seau without ever receiving an above-poverty-level income.

    • Rob says:

      No they do not. Top picks get millions of dollars.

      • bradP says:

        The maximum NBA d-league salary is 25,500.

        First year minor leaguers in MLB Single A make $850 bucks a month and the average minor leaguer makes less than 1500 a month.

    • John says:

      Less compensation in the sense that the university tuition has a high nominal value? That’s a really dubious way of looking at it.

      • bradP says:

        Less compensation in that most minor leaguers have to work a second and third job to keep their major league hopes alive.

        • elm says:

          What about pro-rated signing bonuses?

          • elm says:

            Whoops, should have reply to salary info in your above post…

          • bradP says:

            Players drafted in the first few rounds do get signing bonuses paid by the pro team that drafted them and not by the minor league club they play for.

            I’m not entirely sure it is analogous.

            Thinking about it, though, the NCAA could allow players to be drafted and not lose eligibility. That way, the kid could get a signing bonus, and the pro team could get the contractual rights when the kid moves on to the pros.

            I would be fully behind that.

            • Josh G. says:

              Marginal prospects may do somewhat better under the existing NCAA system, if they want a college degree and if their coach will let them put in the work to get a meaningful one. Top-tier prospects get totally screwed compared to their counterparts in a more market-based system, such as MLB.

            • witless chum says:

              This seems like a fine idea. On a good, but not Bama, football team of 110 or so guys, there’s probably 20 or so that are going to have a pro career, eventually, and who pro teams might be willing to use a pick on.

    • spencer says:

      Having a minor league system may just lead to some players experiencing the extreme brain trauma of someone like Junior Seau without ever receiving an above-poverty-level income.

      But isn’t that how it works now, since so few college football players ever make the NFL? Or are you talking about a hypothetical career minor-league football player, the gridiron equivalent of Kevin Costner’s Bull Durham character?

      And I agree with John below, in that the going rate for 4-5 years’ worth of tuition is not necessarily reflective of the actual value of a college degree.

    • ADM says:

      Minor leagues don’t have the tv contracts that NCAA football and (men’s) basketball are capable of commanding.

      Not sure how well minor league BB and FB would do if they were no longer under University banners, though. You might be right.

      • Josh G. says:

        There is no reason why the universities could not continue to license their name and allow games to be played in stadiums on campus.

  8. Todd says:

    The best was Jim Harrick’s son’s “Coaching Principles and Strategies of Basketball” class (for credit) at the University of Georgia in the early 2000s. Everyone got an A. Sample questions on the final:

    1. How many points does a 3-point field goal account for in a basketball game?

    2. In what league do the Georgia Bulldogs compete?

    See if you could pass:

    http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/quiz/_/id/600

  9. cpinva says:

    i honestly begin to wonder if american football can survive. the changes necessary, to make it safer, would fundamentally alter the game as it’s currently played. absent those changes, and it will continue to become more and more dangerous, as players become bigger, stronger and faster. as it is, the skill position players experience the closest thing to a car accident, every time they touch the ball, without there being a car involved. this can’t possibly be good for a human body, no matter how well conditioned it is.

    • Carbon Man says:

      Liberals have already banned dodge ball and successfully made a mockery of most kid’s sports by giving everyone a trophy. I have no doubt they’ll ban football in ten years too.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

        Carbon Man has identified the easiest way to save football without reform: reduce the entire issue to a partisan culture war. You could get thirty-some-odd percent of the public to drive roofing nails into their own foreheads if you convinced them that teh libruls were agin it.

        • actor212 says:

          Hey, Carbon Man, as a liberal, I want to prevent you from driving roofing nails into your head. I think it’s dangerous to you, your children and risks the ambulance drivers and EMTs who have to take you to the hospital as well as is a burden to my taxes.

          So please don’t do that or we’ll have to take your hammer away.

        • cpinva says:

          ok, i might almost pay to watch this:

          “You could get thirty-some-odd percent of the public to drive roofing nails into their own foreheads if you convinced them that teh libruls were agin it.”

          the hilarity that would ensue, as a good 1/3 of those punctured other parts of their bodies, because they didn’t actually know where their foreheads are, would be priceless. cruel, but priceless.

      • Liberals have already banned dodge ball

        Cute myth, but they still play dodge ball in school. Some individual schools may have banned it (because a whiny-ass parent was mad that widdle Johnny got a bwuise), but plenty of the schools around here still play.

        But it’s easier to pretend that those evil horrible liberal UNION teachers are ruining everything for everybody, as usual, so carry on.

    • spencer says:

      I’ve long thought that football could be made safer by simply removing all the helmets and pads. Though I admit, I’m not familiar with how professional rugby players fare compared to NFL players with regard to brain injuries.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

        This was more-or-less Mike Ditka’s proposed solution a few years ago: eliminate facemasks.

      • actor212 says:

        We had a thread on this precise topic a couple of weeks ago.

        In my opinion, the objective of defense in rugby — to wrest the ball from your opponents — made the strategy of tackling very different. The hard hit to knock your opponent over is pretty much non-existent in exchange for the “grab hold and tug” tackle. Since yardage doesn’t really matter in rugby, and there are no punts per se, you can afford to let a runner get a few more meters, so long as you can prevent a touch, for the opportunity to get the ball back.

        • Decrease Mather says:

          Plus, you put put shit back into the donkey. Maybe if face masks and tackling had never existing, NFL tackling would be different. But if you changed it now you’d have all kinds of injuries as players tried to learn a different game.

      • Any attempt to make football less damaging has to start at the beginning, in high school. Then, over time, it will move up to college and the pro game.
        I am in favor of upper weight limits for players for a start. If you want to reduce the damage from collisions, reducing kinetic energy is good. Also remove a lot of protective padding, and do not allow taping of joints. Then ban hard helmets, and change kickoffs to put the receiving team players on the sideline, so that collisions are mostly lateral and not head-on. Over time, that will reduce the severity of impacts. It will of course infuriate and enrage those folks who like Hollywood violence in real time, but they could be bought off with a lifetime subscription to NFL Films, so that they can watch The Good Old Days in their living room.

  10. Carbon Man says:

    If he was a bad student who wanted easy classes he’d be a history or women’s studies major.

    • spencer says:

      In my experience as a professor, those kinds of students have a strong tendency to gravitate to the majors offered by the business school.

      • Carbon Man says:

        Professor of what? I’m guessing what you teach ends with the word “studies”, no?

        What higher education needs is more STEM and less liberal arts. I’m neutral about business, personally I don’t see why you can’t be a successful businessman without a four year degree.

        • actor212 says:

          And many do.

          And then they end up hiring people who have them because, you know, book knowledge.

          Say, do you velcro your shoes? You sound like you do.

          • Uncle Kvetch says:

            Shoes? I always imagined him in footy pajamas.

          • Malaclypse says:

            And then they end up hiring people who have them because, you know, book knowledge.

            Remember back when Jennie pretended to be a small business owner looking to hire a corporate tax expert? Because lord knows small business owners do that in-house rather than just send stuff to a CPA firm. He was a lot more interesting when he pretended not to be an angry useless cracker…

        • cpinva says:

          if you want to be a licensed actuary or a cpa, you have to have a degree, to even be allowed to sit for the respective exams. what kind of generic “businessman” are you thinking of, that a degree wouldn’t be extremely helpful, to be succesful in? pretty much every specific area (electrician, plumber, etc) requires some amount of formal training, before you’re let loose on an unsuspecting world, business is no different.

        • Linnaeus says:

          What higher education needs is more STEM and less liberal arts.

          Interesting in that right-wingers were arguing nearly the opposite 50-60 years ago.

        • Liam says:

          You know what bad students are somehow good at? Studies.

          • Liam says:

            Similarly, you know what’s obviously of no practical use to people communicating with each other through a written medium? The ability to express one’s ideas through writing.

        • JL says:

          I am in STEM, got my bachelor’s from one of the top STEM schools in the country, and I think you’re full of it. History and political science are useful for understanding the world and how it operates – you go into the future with the lessons learned from the past. Writing is useful for, well, most things. Cultural criticism and analysis (whether of literature or some other medium) are useful for learning how to not get suckered by the propaganda (whether left, right, or neither) that’s foisted on you by the environment that you live in. Anthropology is useful for understanding your own society and subculture as well as for interacting with others in productive ways.

          All those “studies” programs that conservatives complain about so much are just applying these useful disciplines in combination with a particular group as a focal point.

          And some STEM disciplines, notably certain biomedical sciences, have such a glut of people in them already that there aren’t enough field-relevant jobs for the people studying them.

          • Bill Murray says:

            really the big push in engineering education now is to integrate it somewhat with humanities and social sciences because most engineers don’t relate well with non-engineer people.

            • Philip says:

              This push actually started a long time ago, albeit without as much widespread support. Things like the Manhattan Project forced a lot of scientists and engineers to think that maybe they should be more aware of the context of their work (see for example Harvey Mudd’s mission statement).

    • Carbon Man says:

      I am largely unfamiliar with the experiences of reading and writing things longer than a single paragraph so I assume they must be things that bad students can easily excel at.

    • sharculese says:

      Not everyone is terrified by the idea of learning things, Jenny dearest.

  11. Carbon Man says:

    Pssst, Erik, there’s already a minor league–several in fact. The CFL, European league, Arena League..

  12. A Magician Named GOB says:

    Wright was asked several questions about his academic experience during the segment with Costas. At one point, Costas asked how much of an education Wright got while at A&M.

    Wright responded: “I had more of an education in high school. Once I got to college, I kind of let my hair down a little bit. I don’t have to write term papers anymore — I just have to get a grade now and play basketball.”

    Costas then asked Wright about the agricultural classes he took at A&M, and Wright seemed to imply they weren’t tough courses. He also said that to keep from flunking out, student-athletes were often steered toward the school’s College of Agriculture.

    “In certain classes, you see, you know, a quarterback, me, a running back, and then a farmer. So it definitely was a little bizarre,” Wright responded. “But we’re all in poultry science for a reason. We’re in this class because we need to get this grade. We’re not really trying to learn about chickens.”

  13. actor212 says:

    At least he’s not indulging in the facade of taking a Phys Ed major which gave him full credit for his activities as a player.

  14. adolphus says:

    Two things:

    1) I don’t have a problem with athletes majoring in something related to their sport. Students who want to be professional dancers can major in dance. Students who want to be professional actors can major in drama. Why shouldn’t students who want to be professional athletes major in athletics of some sort? Of course the rigor of those courses is another, and perfectly legitimate, issue.

    2) Doesn’t the NCAA have rules about attending class? Do they have to go to campus? If you can fulfill their requirements from a computer screen at a distance, why can’t the University of Phoenix just start athletic programs of students from all over America. Or what is stopping Texas A&M from recruiting students from all over the country and only requiring their attendance on campus during the season? Or Nike from opening an online school, a non-profit arm of course, and sponsoring athletes from all over the country? (they could practice and local franchise gyms/tracks/pools which would then open to the public during non-practice hours for a fee. It could work) Or the University of Florida have a hockey or ski team that never leaves Colorado?

    Seriously, what are the NCAA rules on actually being on campus and if not on campus for class, how close to campus do you have to reside and still be consider “at” the school?

    • drkrick says:

      I think the requirements are about GPA and maintaining something vaguely resembling a degree. Nothing about residence or attendance that I’m aware of.

      My favorite example of how well this works is Dexter Manley, who played the bulk of his pro ball in Washington and his college ball at Oklahoma State under Jimmy Johnson. Manley was illiterate until well into his 20′s when, to his credit, he took the classes needed to learn how to read. He was not only kept eligible for four years at OSU, he was awarded (“earned” would be a stretch) an OSU degree.

    • Bill Murray says:

      In Division I, student-athletes must complete 40 percent of the coursework required for a degree by the end of their second year. They must complete 60 percent by the end of their third year and 80 percent by the end of their fourth year. Student-athletes are allowed five years to graduate while receiving athletically related financial aid. All Division I student-athletes must earn at least six credit hours each term to be eligible for the following term and must meet minimum grade-point average requirements that are related to an institution’s own GPA standards for graduation.

      http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/NCAA/Eligibility/Remaining+Eligible/Academics

  15. JKTHs says:

    Hey at least the classes are (ostensibly) real unlike the ones at UNC.

  16. Mike D. says:

    Sure, we can have minor league football (or, say we can in theory – i.e., say we forced the NFL to develop such a league.). It’s still not going to eliminate voluntary, unpaid, varsity-level (if not with quite as many NFL-star-quality players) collegiate football, nor having players on campus participating in it who have approximately as much interest in academics as Johnny Manziel currently does.

  17. Decrease Mather says:

    I like the line about there being “only” 20-25 students in the English class.

  18. TBP says:

    FWIW, I was a GTA at Indiana University many years ago (although they call them AIs, for Associate Instructor). I had a varsity athlete in my class for non-majors. He wasn’t bad at all, and actually attended pretty regularly, but ended up with a slightly lower GPA than he needed for his eligibility. A minor grade change, like from B- to B (or similar; I don’t remember exactly so long after) would have made the difference . He came to me with a request for a grade change after grades were already in. My supervisor was the instructor of record, so I passed the request on to him. He denied it, got in touch with the coach, who actually apologized for the student’s action. I was kind of surprised, and pleasantly so.

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