College athletes attend universities that not only give themselves the best opportunity to further their athletic abilities, but to receive a quality education.
Is that education enough and do universities go far enough to aid athletes who bring in millions of dollars to school revenues each year?
A student-athlete has all of the same responsibilities as any undergraduate student attending the school, with all the additional practice and travel time.
Many groaning undergraduates with student loan debt would say that coming out of college with a clean financial slate would be worth any grueling practice and game schedule, but those students don’t have to deal with expectations of fans that have their school painted on their chest, as well as the media.
Most student-athletes do not go on to a professional career in their sport. The NCAA stated that 1.7 percent of college football players and 1.2 percent of male college basketball players went on to play professionally in their respective sports in 2012.
When the dream of becoming a professional athlete is met with the reality of such few student athletes moving up to the professional level, what are they to do? It all comes back to education.
If you look at the graduation rates for Division I football, according to Stanford.scout.com, Oklahoma, South Florida, Florida Atlantic, Arizona, San Jose State and Florida International had less than 50 percent of their student athletes graduate.
Among all college sports, football is often criticized as having the most academically challenged student-athletes, but collegiate athletes in other sports appear to be struggling more in the classroom.
The USC and Cal basketball teams had less than 40 percent of their student-athletes graduate. The Arizona baseball team had a graduation rate of less than 20 percent.
Who is to blame? The student-athletes or the universities?
Both. Almost every kid growing up wants to play in the NBA, NFL or some professional league, but somewhere throughout life they realize that these are just youthful dreams.
I am not here to crush any athlete’s dreams, but athletes have to go into every situation thinking that an injury could ruin their athletic future at any moment.
Life continues long after games are played, and universities should have funds set aside for all of the student-athletes who abuse their bodies for the well-being of their schools’ sports programs.
I believe that the NCAA should use the funds that the athletes bring to the school to help continue to build the programs, but also be set aside for athletes after they graduate.
The program would send out bi-annual checks to help with payments, and would attempt to help athletes for the long term, instead of only when they are young and possibly immature with money.
The program would also give students more incentive to graduate because that would be the stipulation to enter the program.
The answer to this hot button issue is complex, but relies on student-athletes taking it upon themselves to excel in academics before thinking about athletics. Universities also need to start funds that will help all student-athletes after they graduate, and make more professors’ assistance available for traveling athletes to make graduation a possibility.