“Around the O”‘s response to Sara Ganim’s CNN investigative piece on the pressures on universities to admit and pass revenue sport athletes manages to entirely ignore the distinction between revenue athletes, and those in non-revenue sports like women’s tennis. Joe Mosely’s piece – with some disturbingly evasive quotes from UO VP for Enrollment Roger Thompson, just back from his Alamo Bowl junket, is here. Presumably CNN will soon update their database with the numbers that UO and Thompson do not want to show.
1/7/14: CNN: UO delaying release of records on athlete’s SATs
As a local reporter, Sara Ganim broke the Sandusky/Paterno story. Her digging got her a job at CNN. (Take note, UO journalism students, athletics is the bright spot in the reporting job market, and there’s always a scandal to write about. Former ODE reporter Ryan Knutson turned his investigative pieces on the Matt Court arena deal into a WSJ job.)
Now Ganim has been digging into the issue of “special admits”. These are students who do not meet a university’s regular admissions requirements, but get in anyway. At football factories such as the one UO has become, these are often athletes who make millions for the coach and entertain the hell out of the boosters, but enter college as illiterates and leave as illiterates with concussion induced brain damage.
Ganim’s CNN story on this is here. The NCAA lays the blame on college presidents:
“Are there students coming to college underprepared? Sure. They are not just student-athletes,” said Kevin Lennon, vice president of academic and membership affairs at the NCAA.
But he said the NCAA sees it as the responsibility of universities to decide what level athlete should be admitted to their schools.
“Once the school admits them, the school should do everything it can to make sure the student succeeds,” he said. “(Universities) don’t want a national standard that says who they can recruit and admit. They want those decisions with the president, provost and athletic directors. That is the critical piece of all of this.”
True enough, when this issue game up in the UO Senate last year, President Gottfredson said he didn’t want the faculty involved in these decisions. OK, it’s on him and Lorraine Davis, who sits on the committee that rubber-stamps the athletic department’s requests.
So, how bad is this problem at UO? Ganim was able to use public records requests to get data from many schools, including OSU. But not UO:
But you can get an idea by following this link and watching the student videos from UO’s sham FHS 199 course that was being taught by athletic department employees, for academic credit, without faculty review. Here.
UO does a decent job of getting their football players graduated relative to other top football teams. It is not at the level of the general student body, but the academic credentials of players coming in are likely not at the level of the general student body.
UO pays $4000 per athlete to do it, most of which is sucked up by revenue sport athletes. Services to non athletes across campus run $200 per student.
I had an athletic counselor come to my office last year and ask for special treatment for an athlete. They didn’t offer me a sideline pass, but maybe I don’t know how to drop a hint. Anyone know what the magic words are?
Two quick comments. I served as one of two faculty members on the special admissions committee for a year. During that year, at least each decision was careful and in line with what I think any of us would want for applicants who fell short in typically one area. Not all of the cases were athletes, either. I can’t speak for anyone else or any other year. We have new admissions director, for example. also, I suspect the real problems involve Weak JC transfers. that was especially true under the old Jerry green era in basketball. The Kent era got better, if far from perfect.
Besides supplying an outlet for faculty’s daily snark quotient, this forum provides an opportunity for faculty to share certain experiences to see if theirs is common or anomalous.
1. Its my experience that the “flake factor” among student athletes as a whole is about 20%, only slightly larger than the general student population.
2. Men’s football, basketball and baseball are the most problematic. Women’s softball use to be a problem but that
has been cleaned up.
3. The thing that concerns me the most is classroom behavior and I am wonder if my experience is unique or common. In class, these student athletes generally all sit together, usually in the back of the room, with their Jaqua Center issued academic equipment, and do nothing but talk and social media themselves all class period. In one of my classes it became disruptive so one of the assistant coaches had to sit in class for a week to monitor this. A small correction resulted.
Someone’s got to check their draft ranking.
Can’t they hire agents for that? Oh right, the NCAA thinks agents would exploit the players.
The academic advisor in that CNN story who documented illiteracy among UNC athletes is now getting attacked by UNC and receiving death threats from fans.
A man who has nothing worth dying for is mighty poor indeed.
I taught a 200+ person, 300-level science class for many, many years. Without doubt, the track students I had were the best, many earning As and Bs. The field students were Bs and Cs. I only had one footballer and he received an A-. The worst were the wrestlers, a program which is now gone from UO. Most were Ds or Fs. One poor kid took my class 3 times and earned F, D and D+. Throughout all this I never once was contacted about a student athlete’s grades.
I have had more than my share of athletes from all sports and there are a few things I would say. (1) Jaqua and its tutoring services have really helped by keeping students abreast of assignments when they are traveling. (2) Most students who are in upper division classes which I teach have figured the balance out. The only issues I really have had were with freshman who were more likely to be focusing on the sport, not the books. (3) I have not seen any differences in accomplishments by sport. (4) In response to an inquiry from the AD about a grade check, e.g. how are things doing, I was quite frank about a freshman student who was chronically missing classes and frankly a loafer since he was clearly in danger of failing. And this was one of those marquee, front of the newspaper players who had been recruited. When I talked to the academic advisor and explained what was going on his answer was “well flunk him. That is what he deserves.” I did. I never once felt pressure to do anything otherwise and I actually appreciated the interest in what was happening. I learned later the student repeated the class and did quite well.
The Jaqua advisors do a good job shunting the weaker students into gut classes, of which UO has a sufficient supply.
That may be true, but as I noted I teach mostly upper division classes for majors. I have had a number of Jaqua tutors contact me at the beginning of the year when they get assigned classes and topics to clarify what I teach, how I teach it, and to make sure that how they may have learned it is not inconsistent with my approach. I have appreciated their diligence.
As an OSU undergrad forestry student circa late 1970s, I TA’d the intro class taught by a retired Forest Service worker of great integrity. One term, the only bona fide athlete on a miserably bad football team enrolled. He failed the mid-term and we caught him copying answers during the final. The professor flunked him. The athletic department came unglued, visited the prof and demanded the student’s failing grade be changed to ensure his continued eligibility to play. No way. The team went downhill from there, bottoming out in the infamous Toilet Bowl, aka the Civil War game of 1983 (the last Div I 0-0 tie). I hope the athletic/academic relationship is better today; thankfully, the football team is.
UT head coach has new expectations.