November 28, 2005

NYT: College football players aren't always as smart as real college students!

Poor Grades Aside, Athletes Get Into College on a $399 Diploma

By the end of his junior year at Miami Killian High School, Demetrice Morley flashed the speed, size and talent of a top college football prospect. His classroom performance, however, failed to match his athletic skills.

He received three F's that year and had a 2.09 grade point average in his core courses, giving him little hope of qualifying for a scholarship under National Collegiate Athletic Association guidelines.

In December of his senior year, Morley led Killian to the 2004 state title while taking a full course load. He also took seven courses at University High School, a local correspondence school, scoring all A's and B's. He graduated that December, not from Killian but from University High. His grade point average in his core courses was 2.75, precisely what he wound up needing to qualify for a scholarship...

N.C.A.A. minimum standards require the completion of 14 core courses. Grade-point average in those courses and standardized test scores are rated on a scale. Students with high averages can qualify with lower test scores and vice versa.

For example, after Morley's junior year at Killian, a computer program used to project eligibility showed him graduating with about a 2.1 G.P.A., meaning he would need at least a 960 on the SAT. At University, he raised his average to 2.75, so his 720 SAT score was exactly what he needed to qualify.

All very deplorable, no doubt, but, honestly, why should Demetrice Morley be denied the chance to do what he does best in life, play football, just because he's no good at book-learning? One-sixth of the white kids and one-half of the black kids in this country have IQs below 85. They have no business pretending to be college students, but there's no other way to play serious football in this country after age 18. As I wrote in 1991:

Although the sports pages are full of the travails of football and basketball stars trying to pass the dreaded Scholastic Aptitude Test, baseball players fear it not. Why the disparity? Not for the good of football and basketball players, but because of the historical accident that their sports, unlike baseball, emerged as colleges entered the sports business. Foreigners of course think it ridiculous that American universities sponsor celebrated teams, but the outside world is also baffled by our insistence that to play certain sports athletes must attend college. An overly simplified, but instructive, syllogism explains their viewpoint: If athletes resemble the general population in academic capability; and only people who rank in, say, the top half in scholastic capacity are true college material; then we cannot expect half of all athletes to thrive in college.

Prohibiting football and basketball players from doing what they do best in life because the colleges happen to run their sports is arbitrary and cruel. It's like demanding scholars bench press 150 pounds before they can enter the library. (Fortunately, the current system is so sleazy that even the dimmest athlete can sneak in somewhere, a small mercy that the Knight Commission hopes to stamp out.) Alternatively, to pretend that the less academically qualified players can benefit much from their scholarships while practicing hours daily is hypocrisy. Since universities won't teach unprestigious but decent-paying blue collar skills like carpentry, many athletes get dumped in watered-down and worthless courses like Rocks for Jocks (geology) and Clapping for Credit (music).

I offered a solution to the dilemma of big money amateur athletics here.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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