Today, sports are no longer just fun and games, sports are now a business, and college sports are no different. College sports provide a huge source of universities’ income. The school takes in money from ticket sales, television contracts, and sport-related merchandise, just to name a few. With these sources of great revenue, comes the feeling of a “professionalization” of college athletics and in turn college athletes. The line between college athletes as Student-Athletes and college athletes as Athlete-Students has continued to blur, causing some major issues to arise with regards to athletics and academics. Some of the most primary issues currently affecting NCAA athletes are: academic support, the NBA age rule, eligibility and scholarships, and the academic progress rate (APR). Academic Support
The perception of many student-athletes on college campuses, especially those in revenue-producing sports such as basketball and football, is that they are Athlete-Students rather than Student-Athletes. In most Division One universities special academic support facilities and resources are available to athletes participating in intercollegiate athletics. Most schools spend millions of dollars on facilities and support staffs to provide student athletes with the necessary assistance to help keep them eligible. A New York Times article notes that many of the nation’s top athletic programs have invested significant funds in their athletic-academic programs. For example, Louisiana State University spent $15 million to build an academic center for athletes and the University of Georgia built a new facility for $7 million. Temple University increased its academic support budget for athletes by 34 percent after poor academic performance led to scholarship losses imposed by the NCAA. The Times also reported that the University of Southern California spends over $1.5 million annually on tutors and other academic support for its student athletes. The university has 15 staff positions in its Student Athlete Academic Services Department to serve its 550 athletes (Thamel, 2006). Pressure for schools to increase academic support for their athletes comes from the NCAA. Its rules can reduce the number of scholarships for colleges whose athletes do not meet minimum academic standards. Such rules have helped to fuel the building boom and budget increases for academic centers. While college officials say these programs are necessary because athletes must devote so much time to their sports, few other students whose time is consumed by jobs or other school activities receive as much assistance. With that being said, other college students are not held to the same level of standards as college athletes. For starters, while regular students need to comply with school rules, student-athletes receive a handbook from the Division of Athletics and the NCAA stating all the additional rules that they must follow (NCAA, 2007). There is a specific code of conduct that every student-athlete must comply with in order to play and participate in their sport.
Student-athletes are held to a higher level of behavioral standards than regular students. In the student-athlete handbook under the code of conduct it states, "It is essential that you act responsibly and do nothing to jeopardize your opportunity to obtain maximum results from your university experience... You are expected to behave both on and off campus in a manner which brings credit to the university and your team" (SFSU, 2007). While it is true that regular students are also held accountable to the university for their actions both on and off campus, the visibility of student-athletes is higher than that of a regular student. For example, if a school’s football player is arrested their face is plastered on the front page of the newspaper, and the story is picked up by national media. However, if a non-athlete student is arrested it might appear as a little blurb in the...
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