The world of Division 1 college sports is built upon money, but we only get to see the product: the star athletes. In fact, we don’t even associate DI sports with money, because all of the players are not getting paid, while schools are making millions of dollars off of their talents. Think about it: if some coaches are getting million dollar contracts, then there must be some sort of large revenue flow. If you would look under the surface, you would soon find that things are not always as they seem. First of all, student-athletes are more athlete than student, and with so much money on the line, most college sports teams only care that athletes get good enough grades to play. As a result it all comes down to money, and the only time that we get a glimmer of what is going on underneath the surface is when the latest scandal comes out concerning student-athletes and their coaches.
Recently two major division one college programs have been discovered to be putting the monetary value of their sporting programs over the welfare of their athletes. This is a very sad and sobering thing for college sports fans. Imagine if you were a mother of an athlete, and you put your trust in a major program to put your child’s academics and wellbeing first. And for all you knew, this is exactly what was happening, until reports and videos surface that your student was being cussed out and having basketballs thrown at his head by his coach. This is the same coach that came into your living room, and told you he would treat your son or daughter like one of his own and look out for him or her as best as he could. Well this is exactly what happened with the Rutgers University basketball program.
This past week, a 12-hour video was released showing Rutgers head basketball coach Mike Rice throwing basketballs at athletes’ faces along while shoving and kicking them. In a bizzare attempt to be representative of what fans would yell at them, he screamed obscenities and homophobic slurs at his players every practice. But what makes it worse is that the athletic director was shown this footage months before they went viral, and he settled for suspending Mike Rice for three games and subjecting him to anger management classes. So after covering it up, and firing an assistant coach who confronted the athletic director about this lack of discipline, Rutgers University finally made a decent choice in choosing to fire Mike Rice and the athletic director. But in my opinion this does not do justice to the student-athletes, because this was all just to save face. If Rutgers would have had it their way, Mike Rice would still be coaching. As an indication of how effective Mike Rice’s coaching techniques were, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights finished 15-16, good enough for twelfth in the Big East.
Compared to this emotionally charged news, was the report that the Auburn University football team altered players’ grades and withheld positive drug test results for synthetic marijuana, so that star players could participate in the BCS National Championship Game. Sadly this is just a common occurrence for Division 1 football programs. Auburn is on the list of numerous major D1 football programs that have put football before academics, and a positive image over the truth. With news like this coming out almost yearly, football recruits must be getting the idea that as a football player, football comes first, and academics second. This is a horrible message, because there is no respect being shown for the learning process and higher learning by sports programs and athletes alike. The NFL is not helping either by recently implementing a rule that players must play until their junior years to qualify for the NFL draft. With all of the money coming into major athletic programs like these, the risks are little compared to the rewards available. There is no immediate solution to this glaring problem, but something must surely be done to restore balance to the respect that higher institutions must hold.
Among concealing test results and grade alterations, Auburn bribed players to return for their senior seasons instead of declaring for the NFL draft.
So again, this all circles back to money in major college sports. And why should we expect anything different? Universities make tens of millions of dollars off of television deals, so with that much money at stake, everything underneath the surface is just another trivial thing that must be done in order to secure another television contract and keep the money flowing in.