our view

December 23, 2010

The real crime in college sports

So yet another college athlete was found to be involved in criminal activity? No way.

Should we really be surprised when high-profile, un-paid college athletes are involved in illegal actions to make money? Recent news reports have brought this story closer to home, and for some it has become a deep embarrassment.

Depending on the study, somewhere between one-third to one-half of NCAA Division 1 football players don’t graduate from college. With fewer than 2 percent of college football players drafted in a professional league, where do the remaining 98 percent of these athletes land? How do they make a living without a degree? What will they turn to as a source of income?

Unfortunately, most people don’t change. If a young man has a criminal record before he enters college, he will likely continue that life of crime in college — and beyond. There are exceptions, yes, but the numbers do not lie.

College was never intended to be a rehab center for criminals, and participating in college sports should be a privilege for those who play by life’s rules and want to earn a degree. Some universities implement background checks on athletes, and that’s a good start. Unfortunately, school officials don’t always act on what they find. If the athlete is good enough, they roll the dice. That’s why the NCAA should implement a strict rule that would prevent any athlete with a serious criminal record from participating in NCAA athletics at any level. This policy would certainly prevent a number of highly talented individuals from playing college sports, but that’s OK. It would also likely spur the creation of a farm league that would include great athletes who could be compensated for their talents. That’s OK, too, as they deserve to be paid. Unfortunately, the NCAA would never let this happen, as the money made from the talents of these athletes is far too important to the university revenue streams.

College was intended to be an institution of learning. As long as we continue to allow these places to be centers of athletics rather than centers of education, we should continue to expect more of the same.

And that’s the real crime. CV


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