In the wake of the Wainstein report (PDF) on the UNC academic/athletic scandal, UNC’s student newspaper published an editorial yesterday declaring that it’s time to make enrolling as full-time students optional for student-athletes:
Despite The Daily Tar Heel’s past resistance to big-time college athletics, we want to recognize that this University is in the business of fielding high-budget, high-revenue sports teams for institutional gain.
We see little wrong with this arrangement, per se, other than that it has yet to be formally acknowledged by the NCAA and its member institutions.
But it is precisely that disingenuous attitude toward the status quo that fails student-athletes. It is the unwillingness to fully face up to the obstacles they encounter in their attempts to complete a degree while essentially performing a full-time job and managing their celebrity. And it is the pretense that this is a reasonable demand upon those whose compensation is so compromised that provides incentive for fraud here and elsewhere.
The damaged link between academic achievement and athletic eligibility ought to be formally broken. Athletes recruited to this school as such should continue to be given the opportunity to pursue a degree, but they should not be compelled to do so.
This would not preclude students from seeking to excel academically on their own terms, but it would eliminate the need to cover up any existing deficiencies in primary and secondary education, which are only magnified in the face of demanding practice and travel schedules.
The editorial then goes on to say that this
puts more power in the hands of student-athletes to determine the terms upon which they are affiliated with this University and live their lives.
The intent may be noble, but the solution proposed in the editorial is an utterly vile notion under a veneer of rationality and empowerment. In essence, the editorial is saying that because UNC has failed to deliver the compensation it promised to some student-athletes (i.e., a good education), that it should just stop trying and leave it to the athletes to decide whether they want to pursue an education while they are in Chapel Hill. (more…)