March Madness has ended. A new national champion has been crowned. Now let’s get serious about college sports.
Everyone is aware that the colleges and universities around the nation have been the nursery for professional sports. Pro teams have drafted collegians who excel in basketball, football and baseball. Fewer than half of these student athletes plan on graduating from college. Their eye is on signing bonuses and the big pay day. College is the freeway that will take them to the bigs.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is pushing a proposal that would bar college basketball teams from postseason play if they fail to graduate 50 percent of their players, an idea that didn’t go over well with the NCAA and coaches preparing for March Madness, according to the Post-
Dispatch in Providence, R.I.
Duncan appeared on CNN Presents last Sunday evening, just a day before the finals of the NCAA basketball finals, and laid out the reasons for establishing a 50 percent graduation rate that universities must reach in order to be eligible for post-season play.
Duncan is right. Our universities have become the minor leagues for professional sports. Pro teams draw talent from the college ranks, but do not contribute a dime toward educating these future pro athletes. Further, our universities are supposedly institutions of higher learning, not the incubator for professional sports.
Duncan singled out the University of Connecticut, last year’s NCAA basketball champions. He noted that UConn graduated only 30 percent of its athletes. “Only 25 percent of UConn’s players graduate within six years,” CNN’s report stated.
Under his plan, UConn will not qualify for post season basketball action for five years, or until 50 percent of its athletes graduate.
In contrast to UConn, CNN’s report cited Marquette University for graduating 91 percent of its student athletes. Marquette is preparing its students for life.
Mr. Secretary, you are to be applauded for your demands on the NCAA and its member universities and colleges.