Common sense says the answer is somewhere between minimal (meaning enough to stay eligible) and passable (enough to use in varying degrees after graduation) – unless we take into account female athletes. The women really do use their educational opportunities to the max, the men less so, if a sample of the recent Academic Progress Rate is any indication.
Women, if individual school
comparisons are accurate, do a wonderful job of balancing school and sports. The
findings are not school specific, but information on some institutions has been
released, and this is a sterling example:
The comparison holds almost across the board, and across the nation.
Football, men's basketball and baseball are the bottom-feeders in this regard. In one sense, it's hard to find fault. These guys, in essense, are holding down full-time, year-round jobs. Most of them enter college thinking they are on the inside track to professional sports. The trick for them is to continue improving – and staying eligible – for at least three years. Women don't have the same pro opportunities, so they put a real effort into acquiring a real education. Their futures depend on it.
For the men in the three sports in question, it's often not so much "education'' as a "process,'' with the schools finding a series of courses and instructors who take into account the situation of the athletes. It hardly seems coincidental that of the 65 LSU football players profiled in the 2006 press guide, 38 list their major, not as a specific academic discipline, but as general studies. It's hard to escape the notion that somebody in Tigertown has found the course of least resistance.
On the other hand, anyone would be
naïve to think this isn't commonplace across the collegiate sportscape, from the
East Coast to the Pacific, from the heartland to the
Remember the insulting missive of
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney after
Here are the key elements of Delaney's message: "I love speed and the SEC has great speed, especially on the defensive line, but there are appropriate balances when mixing academics and athletics. . . . I wish we had (seven) teams among the Top 10 recruiting classes every year, but winning our way requires some discipline and restraint with the recruitment process.
"Not every athlete fits academically, athletically or socially at every university. Fortunately, we have been able to balance our athletic and academic mission so we can compete successfully and keep faith with our academic standards.''
Ironically, his defensive posture
must have been jolted again three months later when
Those damned smart Big Ten guys can't seem to get out of their own way, at least when playing those slow-witted Southerners.
J. Bernard Machen, president of the
On top of that came the release of the latest Academic Progress Rates report: As a league, for the second straight year, the SEC fared better than the Big Ten, an average of 941.7 to 931.2, both above the red flag barrier of 929, a figure that equates to an approximate 60 percent graduation rate.
Given all the circumstances of Katerina, a special tip of the hat should go to Tulane, where every Green Wave sport placed in the more-than-acceptable rungs. But, it should be noted that LSU's football team turned in a higher score, 941, than the Green Wave, 940.
Does that give LSU bragging rights?
This is how the 12 SEC football teams scored:
Ole Miss: 937
Marty Mule' can be reached at MJM981@Bellsouth.net