|Oregon Magazine||Traveling the West? Stay at Shilo Inns|
|Dollar Damage Infects Cagedom
By Calvin Cager
Basketball has become greed run rampant
at its two highest levels of play…collegiate and professional. Oregon
sports fans have borne witness to how dollars can tear a proud pro sports
franchise apart, the Portland Trailblazers being exhibit A in profiling
the ills of the National Basketball Association. On the other hand,
Books? Don’t bother me!
According to the NCAA, male cagers entering our universities in the
1994-95 academic year had a paltry 40% graduation rate, and this has declined
since (in comparison, football playing students showed a 51% grad rate).
A more recent report noted that among the 248 schools with Division I basketball
teams, a full 104 failed to graduate a single player in 2001. The
two teams playing in this season’s national tournament final, Indiana and
Maryland, sported respective graduation rates of 43% and (ouch!)19%.
Monkey see, monkey do
The style (or lack thereof) of pro play encourages collegiate cagers to strive for spectacular individual heroics that earn the notice of pro scouts. And when these kids ink a big money contract, they often lose their coachability at the same time. Any underpaid mentor in the NBA will testify to the diffculty of upholding a sense of team values when you’re coaching millionaires.
Back to the colleges. While NCAA members seek the millions resulting from television exposure, they are not offering to share the bounty with their athletes beyond the cost of tuition, room and board. It is currently estimated that an athletic scholarship package provides between $11,000 and $24,000 per school year. If the student athlete sticks with it until diploma-time, the end value of a scholarship should be worthy of an 18-year-old’s attention…yet we see that earning a degree is not the primary purpose of a majority of cagers being recruited to the scene of academe.
And looking at the rich revenues to be mined by qualifying for participation in March Madness, school administrations tend to ignore the decline in academic success. It has been suggested that tourney teams which fail to graduate more than 50% of their students should be banned from tournament competition. If such a standard had been applied this past season, only two of the teams in the final eight, Kansas and Connecticut, would have been eligible.
The full value of a scholarship to a respectable academic institution should be the goal of every college athlete. There should be more pressure upon the schools and the coaches they employ to emphasize and distribute this reward, evening the relationship between books and baskets.
© 2002 Oregon Magazine
Oregon News Digest | Arts&Lettres
| Events | Life&Styles
Natural History | Outdoor | SciTech | Sports | Travel | Peg's Bottom Gazette | Contact