Did you catch Shabazz Napier’s interview after he led Connecticut to college basketball’s national championship with a 60-54 win over Kentucky on Monday night.
Napier ripped into the NCAA for its one-year ban that kept UConn out of the 2013 NCAA Tournament
because the Huskies didn’t meet the NCAA’s academic standards.
Whenever the NCAA announces that it’s tightening the standards for classroom performance, the immediate reaction is to applaud. But after about two claps, the brain kicks in. And most rational people begin to recognize that the NCAA often contradicts itself when it addresses academics.
The NCAA Tournament is the prime example. Athletes are kept away from their campuses in some cases for the better part of three weeks in pursuit of a championship. America’s sports fans love it and pay millions upon millions of dollars in support.
Television ratings soar. The mood of the American people heightens, especially during that opening weekend of the tournament.
All the while, though, the student athletes, as the NCAA so proudly and mistakenly calls players, are thrust into a spotlight that has little or nothing to do with academics. Or with being a student.
The NCAA milks these players for every dime, yet has the audacity to ban a team from its very own money-making machine because the academics aren’t up to snuff.
This is why I prefer professional sports. I know what I’m getting. The players are being paid, no ifs, ands or buts. There’s no cheating because there’s no system to cheat.
We have college student athletes at Northwestern who are threatening to unionize. And as silly as that seems out of hand, it’s starting to make more and more sense to me.
Who watches out for these people? Is it the universities? The college presidents? The athletic directors? The coaches? The academic advisers? The NCAA?
Or are these student athletes forced to look out for themselves? They give and give and give and for what? The fame and notoriety of being a college athlete? The thrill of competition? Is that always enough?
I feel my attitude on all of this evolving. I also feel change coming. Something tells me college athletics are going to look a lot different, and soon.
The blatant pursuit of money at the cost of all else is turning me off.
Holding Final Fours in places like AT&T Stadium is an example. These teams play in their college arenas all season long and when it matters most they’re put inside these massive stadiums where good seats are impossible to find and for what? Money, that’s what? Gobs and gobs of green.
The players have a great time. They’re treated like kings. Except they’re not paid and they have to miss exorbitant amounts of classroom time.
Oh, and about that classroom time.
Do you think Andrew Wiggins is still going to class at Kansas? Or any of the other one-and-done players in college basketball? I’m curious. This isn’t an accusation; I really would like to know.
College athletics had a pure intent, I believe. But money has spoken. And as usual when money speaks, good intentions slowly but surely disappear into something more sinister.
Many, perhaps even most, Americans don’t care about any of that. They just want to see their team, their school, do well.
A growing number of people, though, are speaking out. The hypocrisy of college athletics is thick now, impossible to ignore. It’s everywhere and it has to stop.
Or maybe it doesn’t. Unfortunately, maybe it doesn’t.