NCAA Gets It Wrong- De-humanizes Student Athletes

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For those of you just tuning in, the NCAA still does not give a damn about the student athletes that are the lifeblood of its very existence. Monday, NCAA president Mark Emmert laid a lashing to the Penn State athletic program for crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky and others who were not football players.

For the next four years, Bill O’Brien will have to jump through hoops to fill his 15 scholarships each season with players who fit his system while the university pays millions upon millions ($73 is the estimate) in fines. Also those players must be willing to forego playing in bowl games for most of their collegiate career.

Somewhere in that mess, Jerry Sandusky, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley, Gary Shultz and Joe Paterno are taught a lesson about compliance and culture. Can you help me find it?

Here is the part that really pokes me wrong. The current players are allowed to transfer to another university with no penalty. No penalty. They’re welcome to pick up, relocate and leave their teammates with “no penalty.” They can switch schools, provided that school has room, leaving behind friends and girlfriends, leases and class schedules, all with “no penalty.”

What if those things don’t interest them?

Well then, they’re welcome to stay and play on a team that will not be eligible for a conference championship or bowl game, essentially stripping them of rewards for playing well.

So that’s it? Those are the options? I guess that’s fine, since they’re just football players and all. It’s not like they’re actual humans with emotions and attachments or relationships.

It’s not like Jake Kiley proudly got a tattoo of a jacked up Nittany Lion shortly after committing to Penn State in January. It’s not like Steven Bench misses his two dogs back home in Georgia. Not like Silas Redd promised his mother to get a degree before going pro. Nah, they’re just football players.

What happened to STUDENT ATHLETE? I can’t tell you how many of the players I’ve talked to are quick to chime in about the athletic opportunities at Penn State. In an interview with Steven Bench, he told me this about his decommitment from Rice and commitment to Penn State:

“They’re top notch as far as academics goes…but a Penn State degree isn’t anything to sneeze at either. They’re up there as far as academics goes, but they’re also up there as far as football goes.”

A chance to play top notch football and get a top notch education. The epitome of “student athlete”, no? 

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