University’s self-imposed sanctions ignore real problem plaguing college athletics
To the Daily:
The self-imposed sanctions imposed on the University men’s basketball program have no doubt unfairly punished the current players, fans, and basketball program. More importantly, however, these sanctions have diverted attention from the real issues that plague intercollegiate athletics. Never mind the fact that many athletes from many schools across time, other than the Fab Five, have accepted illegal compensation. Never mind the fact that maybe they should have, and never mind the fact that the University probably knew about it. Never mind the fact that the University makes millions of dollars from Michigan athletes. Never mind the fact that graduation rates of student-athletes, particularly those who participate in revenue-producing sports are disturbingly low. Despite all this, the University is still painting itself as the victim of these incidents. The message they wish to send is “how dare these athletes corrupt our system and challenge our integrity.” This response treats these incidents as isolated events, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Revenue-producing college sports do not embody characteristics of amateurism because they are driven by the need for profits, yet Universities and the NCAA continue to insist and operate as if they do. The burden of this contradiction falls on the shoulders of the student-athletes themselves, who are forced to be students first in principle, and athletes first in practice. These athletes are then blamed for not upholding the standards of amateurism.
The Fab Five controversy provides a perfect platform for a dialogue concerning the location of sports in higher education and the degree to which athletes are exploited in the system. Rather than take this opportunity, the University has turned the other way and has pretended that denying the men’s basketball team a post-season appearance will solve the problem. I think it is shameful the way the University has acted, hiding behind the shield of “to protect our integrity and move forward.” Not only is the University punishing the wrong people to avoid a certain level of humiliation, but it is doing so under the claim of progress. The University should take these events as an opportunity to examine its own character rather than that of Chris Webber.
What next after plague of academic integrity?
To the Daily:
I want to thank you for alerting me concerning the terrible problem. After reading your newspaper today, I went to the store and stocked up on water and canned goods. Which other plagues do you think are coming? Honesty? Diligence? Will they pose front-page-worthy problems the way that integrity has (Academic integrity still plagues campus, 11/12/02)? Please let me know. Thanks.