Other Campuses: NCAA reforms whiff

By The Daily Cougar

(U-WIRE) HOUSTON – The NCAA has set higher standards for the academic performance of student athletes and plans to punish teams whose athletes don’t make the grade.

NCAA president Myles Brand said the new requirements call for a minimum 925 score for each team’s Academic Progress Rate, a tool used to measure players’ academic success. A graduation rate of about 50 percent is needed to achieve a 925, and Brand estimated about 80 percent of universities will have at least one team that doesn’t reach that target. Teams could lose up to 10 percent of their scholarships for failing to make the grade.

Brand said the reform is an attempt to change the culture of university athletics for the better by putting more emphasis on academics. Whether the new requirements achieve the desired effect, the NCAA’s intentions are honorable.

But let’s be realistic.

A number of big-time college basketball and football players who are destined for professional play are no longer students who happen to be good at sports — they’re players who happen to be required to go to class to play.

The larger football and basketball programs in this country are huge moneymakers, and alumni demand success on the field and court. Even at schools such as UH, where programs are consistently in the red, sports are an important part of generating prestige and spirit.

That certainly doesn’t mean it’s wrong to want your school to be successful in its athletic pursuits. But it does mean schools are going to be willing to take extreme measures to keep their best players active. In some cases — though seemingly not at UH, as an NCAA investigation proved this semester — that can even mean cheating.

The NCAA should be commended for demanding greater academic accountability from student athletes. But whether you’re a die-hard fan or someone who believes sports have become too high of a priority for universities, it’d be silly to think the reforms will change the fundamental culture of college athletics.

Staff Editorial