Decoding the Business of College Sports: Academics Over Athletics

From track stars to lacrosse players, student athletes have long been the subjects of both fanatical admiration and deep resentment. The robust college sports industry, estimated at $749.8 million this year alone (and likely to grow as the back to school season begins), leads many to assume that the life of kids on athletic scholarships are padded and glamorous. Incidents like the 2006 academic scandal at Auburn University, in which student athletes’ grade point averages were inflated, doesn’t help prove them wrong. More recently, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel resigned after covering for students in violation of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules, once again drawing negative attention to students on athletic scholarship.

There are certainly those students that break the rules or just see college sports as a stepping-stone to professional leagues. However, there are many others who see college athletics as a means to get an education they couldn’t afford otherwise. For those kids, playing sports while trying to thrive academically is no picnic. “We just don’t get things handed to us, we don’t get grades handed to us, they don’t change things up for us because we’re athletes,” says Alterraun Verner, defensive back for the Tennessee Titans.

Verner attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on a football scholarship and graduated with a degree in math. “We’ve got to work just as hard as the next person and on top of that we have to worry about the athletic side and off the field obligations,” he says. Read complete article at Black Enterprise

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