When it comes to Division I football and basketball, the singular emphasis is the money machine that is "big-time" college athletics.
Oh, they talk a lot of talk about academics still, while they walk their scandal-ridden walk, or waddle, depending on the size of their wallet and "compensation package."
While the NCAA believes money would corrupt college athletes, it remains unwilling to hold a mirror up to hypocritical self.
Mark Emmert, president of the "non-profit" NCAA, is paid nearly 1.6 million a year, nearly 40 percent more than his predecessor.
(Reflecting the priorities of the nation, and not just the NCAA, after Emmert was hired, the United States Justice Department inquired of the NCAA as to why there was not a national collegiate football championship. Emmert set to fixing that right away. On the other hand, the government has not launched any investigations into graduation rates or scandal-plagued public schools. But Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a Harvard graduate and former basketball player, did decry the out-of-whack system in a commentary published in USA Today.)
At a recent press conference, reporters questioned Emmert about a USA Today investigation that found, among other things, athletes taking bogus classes and earning bogus degrees in order to maintain athletic eligibility, Philly.com reported.
Emmert, the former president of the University of Washington, responded: "If you think your alma mater is offering bad degrees, you ought to take it up with them. We're an athletic association. We don't accredit academic institutions. We don't go into the classroom and say, 'We don't like the quality of this degree. That's not the job of an athletic association.'"
Hmm. So much for the NCAA's website statement: "A commitment to academics and student-athlete success in the classroom is a vital part of the NCAA's mission to integrate athletics into the fabric of higher education. The NCAA pledges to help student-athletes achieve their academic goals as well as their athletics goals."
Just 47 percent of Division I basketball players who started school in 2005 graduated by 2011, compared with 63% of all students, USA Today reported.
At Louisville, the NCAA men's basketball champion, where coach Rick Pitino earns nearly $5 million in annual compensation, 48 percent of all students graduate.
Yawn. Certainly nothing the NCAA would want to concern itself with. Can't let education get in the way of the many perks for the 1 percent running the NCAA and coaching its revenue-producers.
Now is the time for all good university presidents, boards of regents, faculty, students and alumni need to take their schools back. Paying coaches, athletic directors, and the NCAA president normal amounts, rather than obscene amounts, would be a good, lead-by-example place to start.
Correction: This editorial has been changed to remove references to graduation rates of athletes at the University of Louisville.
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