NCAA Ties Academics to Athletic Scholarships

Last Thursday's announcement by the NCAA that they would tie together academic advances to athletic scholarships and money will cause a large ripple through the traditional aspects of college athletics. <br><br> In this latest article, Brumby gives his opinions on what a rule like this will mean to college athletics, and how it could be abused if enforcement is not equal across the various schools and conferences.

Last Thursday the NCAA announced new rules that will have a major effect on college athletics, specifically the major sports: football and basketball. The NCAA announced that starting in 2006 they will tie graduation rates to total scholarship limits, and the ability to collect NCAA Tournament money. The other major rule change will be seen as a beacon of light by many college basketball coaches, the repeal of the 5/8 Rule in college basketball. The changes to the NCAA rulebook will make things rather interesting over the next few years, especially in college basketball and football because both sports are susceptible to players leaving college early to enter their respective professional.

The repeal of the 5/8 Rule was probably met with cheers by coaches across the country. In theory the rule was supposed to help the student athlete by making it a disadvantage for a coach to suggest to a player they transfer, the rule became a detriment to many prospective student athletes. Sure, there were instances where the 5/8 Rule did prove to be worth its weight in salt and ensured a coach could not take over a program and clear house (see: Texas Tech and Bobby Knight), but it also hurt a few programs, none more so than Georgia Tech.

Now, I do not remember the exact scholarship numbers, I do remember when Paul Hewitt took over Georgia Tech from Bobby Cremins, the Yellow Jackets were extremely low on scholarships. Hewitt came in and tried to fill his roster with players, but the scholarship limitations of the 5/8 rule left unused scholarships sitting at Georgia Tech due to the unbalanced recruiting of his predecessor. Many people will point out that Cremins recruiting of players like Dion Glover and Stephon Marbury caused these scholarship unbalances, and they program should suffer the consequences. Knowing the situation and the unlikeliness of their appeal being granted, Hewitt and Georgia Tech appealed to the NCAA to get an exception to the rule due to extraordinary circumstances, but they were denied. It took Hewitt three years to build up his team because he was limited to just eight scholarships in the first two years despite his need for players. Situations like what Paul Hewitt experienced at Georgia Tech were abnormal, but because of the 5/8 rule there were available scholarships that could not be used, thus harming the prospective student athletes, the same people it the rule was designed to protect.

When Myles Brand took over the position of the President of the NCAA, he came in with an agenda that called for sweeping reforms in college sports. Myles eventual goal was the repositioning of the NCAA into an organization of student athletes instead of a feeder system for professional athletics. The various rules brand has passed have moved the NCAA in the direction that he wants to go, but his moves seem to be a little hypocritical to me. On one hand, Myles is saying all the right things regarding athletes and their educations, but on the other hand the NCAA is making decisions based simply on the money these athletes are generating for them.

I guess the main problem I have right now with the new rule tying together academic status and scholarship limits is not that the NCAA is actually doing this, but that the enforcement of this rule or a rule similar will just make Jim Harrick, Jr. look like a tough teacher. According to Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway these new rules are being put in place to ensure prospective student athletes know "if you come to our institutions, we're going to do everything in our power to make sure you graduate." I guess it is nice the NCAA cares more about the athletes graduating from college campuses than the average freshman entering the campus who gets sent to at least two ‘weed out' classes a semester for their first year on campus.

In an effort to ensure athletes graduate from college, I can envision a courses being designed specifically to get college athletes on the track for graduation and with a high enough grade point average. A few new courses being considered include:
  • University of Colorado: Women's Rights 101 taught by Gary Barnett
  • University of Texas El Paso: Expense Reports 101 taught by Mike Price
  • San Diego State University: Laundering Gambling Winnings 101 taught by Steve Fisher
  • University of Missouri: ATV Racing 101 taught by Ricky Clemons
  • University of Minnesota: Tutoring 101 taught by Jann Gangelhoff
  • Duke University: Wait, they already have the entire Sociology Department, they don't need any new classes.
  • Indiana University: Beating Kentucky 101 taught by [Waiting for a coach who has beaten Kentucky]
  • Texas Tech: Communications 101: Human Interaction taught by Robert Montgomery Knight
Another possible outcome I see stemming from the new legislation are a few more situations similar to what occurred at Minnesota under Clem Haskins. Clem's players were graduating and keeping up with their schoolwork, the only problem was they were not the actual authors of their work, it was their tutor.

The key to ensuring the rule integrating academics to athletic scholarships and monetary gain will be an even, yet heavy-handed enforcement across the entire NCAA from the sacred cows like Michigan and Notre Dame down to the traditional whipping boys. If the NCAA decides to enforce this rule in the same manner they enforce every other rule, it will become useless. Those that are effective at breaking the rules without getting caught, or who get caught and get little punishment will continue to laugh right in the face of the NCAA as they continue to break rules. It remains to be seen how the NCAA will decide to enforce the new rules, but without proper and more stringent enforcement these new rules instituted by the NCAA will be just like the rest of them, written in a book and ignored by the punishment committee if you are a sacred cow of the organization.

  • Allow me to translate Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway's comments and the Chairman of the Division I Board on the repeal of the 5/8 Rule per's article.

    "With so much progress having been made, combined with the pieces already in place, the 5/8 rule probably was unnecessary."

    Translation: Thank god this rule was repealed this year. Now, Bill Self can recruit three more players to replace the ones that transferred away from Kansas and keep filling the cophers of the Kansas Athletic Department.

  • Allow me to translate Myles Brand's quotes that were released in the article along with the discussion of the rule changes and their impacts on college sports.

    "This is the beginning of a sea of change in college sports. Landmark legislation was passed to ensure each and every student-athlete has a genuine opportunity to receive a high quality education and graduate."

    Translation: This is the first change I am looking to institute in college sports. By the time my presidency ends here in Indianapolis, I am hoping intercollegiate sports quit being a minor league for the National Football League and the National Basketball Association. The landmark legislation that was passed actually has no effect on students, who just come to college to play sports because they will be gone by the time the actual punishment is handed down. It also has not extra benefit in the quality of education received by the actual student athletes, it just sounded good to add this into the press comments. I wonder if anyone will actually catch this when I speak, or if they are still thinking about me firing Bobby Knight and approving Mike Davis' long term contract.

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