Kinesthetic intelligence. Grutz v. Bollinger. Institutions of higher learning. Athletic talent as a soft factor for admissions.
These fancy terms and concepts are wonderful for a law journal or small talk at a get together for college professors, but they have little to do with the real issue at hand: Should young men, woefully under qualified and unprepared for collegiate academic life, be held up to some kind of illusory academic standard when they're offered an athletic scholarship?
The answer is unequivocally and emphatically no. To say anything else is to play lip service to the tremendous hypocrisy that currently exists in the term “Student-Athlete.” Top recruits, especially football players, are signed up for one reason – and everyone knows it. So instead of 1) setting some kind of weak academic line that the occasional unlucky recruit is sideswiped by and 2) using big terms like academic integrity…let’s concentrate on integrating college athletes into the campus atmosphere and focus on getting athletes into social settings where they can grow as people and students.
Kinesthetic Intelligence…But You’ll Never See It
Jon is very much correct in saying that athletes have tremendous kinesthetic intelligence. If your brain can say “pump fake left, check off middle receiver, hot route open” in .8 seconds and your body can follow suit, you're doing something right. And of course a college campus is a stronger campus with a student body that's diverse.
"Less hypocrisy. More focus on the athlete's actual needs."
But Jon, how many male basketball and football players did you hang out with at Miami (OH)? I am guessing the number is low. Even more telling Jon; how many male basketball and football players did you consistently see at Miami (OH)? “Big School“ college athletes live a closed existence; they live together, follow a strict practice/game schedule, and when they attend class, do not traditionally use all that kinesthetic skill to bring anything special to the classroom.
All that kinesthetic energy so fondly spoke of is channeled toward one thing: becoming a better athlete and bringing athletic success to one’s alma mater. Athletes know their purpose at a school, especially the highly recruited, well known ones.
With the Purpose Known, Lip Service is Still Paid to Storied Academic Institutions
Jon would lead you to believe that athletes who don't qualify academically should be allowed into school as part of the diversification of the university and then given a special-tailored program to help them excel academically. He seems to think this is a novel concept.
Athletes are allowed in through every exception imaginable. What if that 5 star wideout has a 1.9 high school GPA and your soft cutoff is 2.0? Send that 6 foot 4 ball of energy to summer classes and get him over that minimum GPA. Then cheer like there is no tomorrow while he is jumping over DB’s from Rival U, all the while claiming your school has held up its academic integrity. Student athletes and fans deserve a little more honesty and respect from administration.
A Simple Choice
For those who enjoy picking from options, here is what I feel like the options on the table are:
1. Continue with soft admissions and tailoring every possible advantage to getting unqualified recruits in, all the while claiming you are cultivating strong student athletes and upholding academic tradition. Allow schools like Notre Dame and Stanford to claim they cannot recruit top football recruits because they have standards. Force conferences, like the SEC, to lower their admission policy to the lowest possible threshold with the obvious goal of allowing more unqualified players in – but God, don’t let the SEC mention their true intentions. Make colleges have a goal of pulling athletic high schoolers over a mythical 2.0 GPA line so a school can uphold its mythical academic tradition.
2. Drop the Standard Admission Criteria farce. Allow colleges to recruit for top notch athletes, but force colleges to do a better job integrating their student-athletes into the community. Take athletes in and take steps to make them productive members of the college campus instead of paid professionals.
Sure it’s idealistic, but at least the focus will be put on strengthening college student athletes. Jon had a wonderful idea of starting the athlete’s in a lower level program and if they excel, bump them to a full scale BA program. If my plan had a tagline, it would be: “Less Hypocrisy, More Focus on the Athlete’s Actual Needs.”Right now, every Nick Saban and Urban Meyer is discussing how to get Token 5 Star Recruit's GPA up one more point so he can come play football at their school. Once Token's GPA hits that GPA threshold, their entire focus is going to be on making him a stud athlete. This approach is not only hypocritical, but entirely harmful. So let's take the focus off a bright line GPA approach and put the focus on making the student athlete a productive member of the collegiate system and society.