The fix has long been in, and it’s no secret. At universities with competitive team sports programs, some jocks have been spared the rigors of college-level academia. They have either been given watered-down versions of required courses or — in extreme cases — have been given the answers to tests in advance.
The charade has become so grotesque that in 2015, the University of North Carolina and the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) were sued by former student athletes who claimed they had been bilked out a promised high-level education by being enrolled in “paper classes.”
But if you think that represents the last word in college sports corruption, think again. Inside Higher Ed reports:
For two years, the former head men’s basketball coach at the University of Southern Mississippi directed his staff to complete the course work of prospective athletes while they were still enrolled in junior colleges, the National Collegiate Athletic Association said Friday. [Emphasis added]
Showing how the pressures of Division I college athletics can breed academic fraud far beyond the walls of a single campus, the university’s basketball staff completed more than 100 assignments in online courses for recruits attending two-year institutions. The case comes less than three months after the NCAA concluded that a former assistant football coach at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette made arrangements with the head of a Mississippi testing center to falsify the ACT scores of players and recruits.
“This thing has tentacles,” David Ridpath, a professor of sports administration at Ohio University and an advocate for reforming the academic side of college sports, said. “That’s been proven over and over again. High schools, testing sites, junior colleges — the corruption trickles down from the universities and affects all levels of education.”
In one case, a recruit was such a weak student that his coach described him as “as far away from graduating as any kid I’ve ever had.”
Such chicanery is understandable, if not excusable. College athletics are big business. Penn State’s elite football program, to take one example, nets the university more than $53 million each year. With profits like that to reap, who has time for school?