Collegiate athletics has been wrought with the idealism of amateurism that ultimately becomes unfounded when economics, pursuit of championships and facts get in the way.
We all have been indoctrinated by coaches, ex-players, suits and administrators that the young men and women who don jerseys are only in school to graduate with athletic pursuits being immaterial.
That’s the message consistently being preached as the gospel even though the actions of those involved in intercollegiate athletics work counterintuitive to that rhetoric.
First-year Delaware State head coach Kenny Carter also believes in the ideal of the student-athlete, and went so far as to explain that point to his players during a recent meeting with team.
In a nine-minute video on the school’s athletic website, Carter addresses the young Hornets with what was described as a powerful message called “Moving Forward” at the start of fall camp.
During the address, Carter, like every head coach in America bellows out typical coachspeak laced with antidotes and overtures about expectations of the players for the upcoming season.
At one point, Carter, in the most candid part of his spiel, begins to explain how each player in the room is only in that room for book learning, not football.
“I will pay for graduation, not eligibility,” Carter recites from a list of talking points he wants to emphasize to his players. “I love that. I love that.”
Then he talks about how the scholarship — totaling $7,532 (in-state student) and $16,138 (out-of-state) in yearly tuition — was only made available to the players for academics.
“If we are giving you money, I’m giving you that money to pay for graduation. I’m not giving you that money to keep you eligible,” Carter said.
“It’s for graduation – that’s what you’re here to do.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember Coach Carter touting the academic prowess of the incoming recruiting class or returning starters on offense or defense.
The only reason the Delaware State decided to offer scholarships to football players is because those football players are good at football, not school.
Each athlete in that room listening to Carter understands why they are there.
The first priority, like all scholarship athletes at every school in the country, is beholden to achievement between the lines instead of in front of the blackboard.
Athletes do not receive academic credit for games, film study, weight training or anything else related to football. Regardless of major, they are not required to play football to obtain a degree.
To allege that the football scholarship is anything else is tremendously nefarious.
According to a study, the average Division I college football player spends a little more than 43 hours per week on his sport taking into account practice, weight training, film study, travel and games.
The NCAA mandates that athletes only spend 20 hours per week on practice. It is also understood — and many athletes have been forthcoming about this — that coaches come up with creative ways to circumvent that rule.
Current Alabama State head coach Brian Jenkins was reportedly under NCAA investigation while at Bethune-Cookman for a number of possible infractions, including “continued and extensive violations of the NCAA weekly practice time limits.”
“We were going 26 to 28 hours, easy, every week,” former Bethune-Cookman offensive lineman Blake Pritchard told the Montgomery Advertiser in February after the allegations became public. “We got the rule book out once and read it, and we were like laughing about it, because it was so obvious. Dude, we weren’t close to those limits.”
But they’re still student first and athletes second, right?
College athletes have never been “student-athletes” as we want to believe.
Walter Byers, former executive director of the NCAA, created the term to protect the collegiate governing body and its member schools from being sued by athletes for workers compensation. It never had anything to do with promoting academics ahead of athletics.
Good grades won’t save an athlete from possibly having his or her scholarship pulled if their performance wanes. The university will not spare a coach from being fired if the team loses too often even if the athletes graduate at a 100 percent clip.
Coaches coach. Players play. Students study. These roles are separate and far from equal.