Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

The material I post on this blog represents my views and mine alone. The material you post on this blog represents your views and yours alone.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Let's Get Blunt

Here’s a pointed comment currently banging through sport journalism’s echo chamber:

Indiana State [as reported by the Associated Press] offered a more blunt assessment [of the NCAA Rules Reform Package], suggesting the change could “create some real nightmares.

The problem is, many coaches, especially at the (Football Championship Subdivision) level, in all sports, are usually not around for five years and when the coach leaves, the new coach and institution may be “stuck” with a student-athlete they no longer want (conduct issues, grades, etc.) or the new coach may have a completely different style of offense/defense that the student-athlete no longer fits into. Yet, the institution is ‘locked in’ to a five-year contract potentially with someone that is of no athletic usefulness to the program.

ISU’s “blunt assessment” speaks directly to a portion of proposed NCAA reforms: “Individual schools,” it reads, “can choose to award multiyear scholarships. Scholarships may not be revoked based on athletic performance.”

When you’re against reform it usually means that you think things in their present state are just hunky-dory. You be the judge.

The blunt truth is athletic scholarships now work within a business model that dominates Big Buck College Athletics. There’s nothing personal, let alone educational, about this. In practice, the withdrawal of an athletic scholarships is a four step retooling process.

1. Coach $$$$ comes to the conclusion that a student-athlete recruited last year, or two or three years ago (and now a full-fledged athlete-student), is not producing on game days.

2. Worse yet, this athlete-student is not responding in a positive or acceptable level to The Program’s system. (Those long, long hours in the weight room, reviewing film, and on the practice field or court.)

3. And/or, Coach $$$$ may be one of those “many coaches” who (as stated in ISU’s candid, hammer-style argument) “are usually not around for five years” and s/he didn’t recruit this loser. Management asks: Why, oh why, should Coach $$$$ pay for this egregious recruiting error?

4. And so it’s the end of a scholarship for this athlete-student. A shiny replacement part is inserted. The Program rolls on.

As for the athlete-student who failed to read the fine print or ask the right questions during their much ballyhooed signing ceremony, s/he has been introduced to the dark downside of signing up with The Program. For the point guard without quickness, the nose guard without a nose for the ball, the student without a degree, it’s off to play security guard back home.

None of this is to say that the “blunt assessment” put forward by an anonymous source at ISU is something to be denied or disowned. Their assessment was not a twitter-truth, something thumbed today, regretted tomorrow. Their assessment was simply and bluntly a business-as-usual truth. And in reality, ISU was speaking for schools from Boston to Boise. In fact, 75 institutions of higher learning have joined ISU in dissent against the tepid NCAA reform proposal on multiyear athletic scholarships.

So I propose cheers to those who manage ISU’s Program — the coaches and the athletic director, President Bradley and the Indiana State University Board of Trustees. It is a good thing to be blunt in word and deed when it comes to college athletics. Hypocrisy and emotional fog have hidden College Sports, Inc. from view far too long.

[Letter published in Terre Haute Tribune Star, Jan. 9, 2012]


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