Educating College Athletes

When my college alma mater, Syracuse University, won college basketball’s Final Four several years ago, I was proud of the team and especially its star, Carmelo Anthony. I discussed a book on Syracuse basketball with Coach Jim Boeheim. Anthony left college after one year and his MVP performance in that Final Four. Since then, he’s had an athletically impressive and lucrative career playing professional basketball in Denver.

I felt less pride reading his quoted remark in The Washington Post Sports section last Sunday. Anthony commented about his slump in the Beijing Olympics, where he and his superstar teammates are blazing the competition. The Post quoted Anthony: “I was asked, where has my offense went? It ain’t go nowhere.”

Perhaps he was lightly using street talk, or facetiously gaming his interviewer. But I wonder whether Syracuse University failed to provide Anthony with a rudimentary education in exchange for his remarkable efforts on its behalf. I’m told that every time one of the university’s teams wins a bowl game or collegiate national sports title (lacrosse, this year) its entering class SAT average goes up. Recent national studies report that Syracuse University’s sports program is not unique.

But what about the athletes who win their schools that valuable notoriety? When I went to college, ages ago, varsity players — including the stars, like Jim Brown — stayed the full four years, stayed, played, and received an education. That practice has changed in recent years, as athletes use short stints in colleges to showcase and refine their skills, and sell them as fast and as well as they can.

Question: Where have college educational obligations to their student athletes went? Answer: It ain’t go nowhere!

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