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Academic Ethics And College Sports

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Autor:   •  July 2, 2011  •  1,829 Words (8 Pages)  •  820 Views

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Over the past 40 years, college athletics has gone beyond a localized fan base to the realm of big business. As schools work to compete with one another not only in the game itself, but with obtaining and maintaining the best recruiting prospects, ethical academic behavior has become suspect in many of the major programs throughout the country.

According Executive Director Tim Dodd of the Center for Academic Integrity based at Duke University, nearly 70% of undergraduate students admitted to have cheated at least once during their academic career. An alarming 25% admit to being academically dishonest habitually (five times or more). Shockingly, these incidents provide passing grades in order to attain a degree. What does that say for the student’s professional credibility? It is very apparent where his or her personal integrity stands (Pope, 2007). Student athletes are no exception to this. Who is responsible for this “jock” stereotype that these athletes carry? Should it be the system that has encouraged them to work hard on the athletic students who turned in the assignment beyond its due date had a 10-percent reduction court or field and yet disregard grades? For example, basketball stars at a private four-year college in Chicago, IL were given an extension on a class project with no penalties while non-each day it was late. The unfair treatment went beyond written work. Attendance also contributed to students overall grade, but student athletes who barely attended classes and rarely turned assignments in on time, had higher GPAs than pupils that met the college’s written academic requirements.

Another consideration that can adversely affect student athletes is his or her background. A significant amount of at-risk and minority students are geared towards sports as extracurricular pastimes as opposed to being in the street and getting into trouble. These students are already at an academic disadvantage in comparison to well funded communities where the schools have sufficient books, caring staff, and additional resources to contribute to a student’s success (Scott, 2003). Where does altering their curriculum benefit them? When post secondary institutions recruit athletes, academics are not pushed. Prestige and financial gains are highlighted.

What can be taught to these student victims? The repercussions to cheating through school will not catch up with them until they are out of school or done with athletics. What does the school lose from holding these students back? Nothing! These students generate revenue, peak fan interest, and glorify the school’s name to the public. Over the top, the mess seems unstoppable, but when unethical academic behavior is reported such as the cases at Florida State University and the University of Minnesota the academic dilemma unravels and the schools lose a great deal more than money: they mutilate their reputations.

In 2007 36 Florida State University football players were deemed ineligible for the Music City Bowl game versus Kentucky due to academic cheating. According to USA Today, when a University employed tutor gave the answers to an exam for an online history class that allowed the athletes to pass the test (Kallestad, 2007). This unethical behavior not only had an impact on the students, but also on the university. With the loss of the football bowl game came a loss of revenue for the college. Scandals of this nature greatly impact the recruiting process for future years as well.

The scandal also tarnished the reputation of students who do not cheat and the degree from that school is less valuable on the job market. Jeff Hayes from the Sporting News summarized the scandal in the following ways:

• “One or two or three players committing academic fraud happens all the time in college football. But 36 -- thirty-six -- players is systemic and a clear indication of zero leadership” (Hayes, 2007).

• “The foundation of FSU's athletic program -- its once elite football team -- is swirling in the drain. And Wetherell (FSU President) has no one to blame but himself” (Hayes, 2007).

• “Wetherell is no better than the 36 players accused of academic fraud. Players don’t fear the ramifications of cheating and getting caught. Wetherell doesn’t fear the ramifications of ignoring the obvious downward trend of the football program” (Hayes, 2007).

Another example of loose ethics surrounding an athletic program revolves around the University of Minnesota. This cheating scandal, much like the incident at Florida State, was far reaching within the university’s athletic program, in this case, the University of Minnesota basketball program. Unlike Florida State opprobrium however, the coaching staff at the University of Minnesota were directly involved, including both knowledge of what was going on and direct involvement and encouragement of student athletes to cheat. In March of 1999, local journalists in St. Paul, MN broke a story which involved an academic tutor and the University of Minnesota men’s basketball team. According to the story in St. Paul Pioneer Press, tutor Jan Gangelhoff claimed to have written more than 400 papers for the University of Minnesota basketball players from 1993-1998 (MPR, Timeline,1999). As the story broke, further instances of academic fraud surfaced when several other tutors and academic counselors admitted that they had done coursework for the university’s basketball players, and in some instances, fixed grades in order to keep basketball players eligible.

The scandal did not just stop with the athletic departments within the University of Minnesota. As the university initiated a further investigation, it came to light that head coach Clem Haskins had paid Gangelhoff $3,000 for her work on student athlete’s papers, thus putting him directly in the middle as a knowledgeable and willing participant (MPR, Timeline, 1999). The university’s actions, as the investigation progressed, were swift and decisive. The players involved were made ineligible for the 1999 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and Coach Haskins was dismissed from his position as head coach. As the university attempted to mitigate the losses caused, the damage was already done. Beyond the shame and embarrassment thrown upon the university, the NCAA imposed sanctions against the school, including four years of probation for its athletic programs and the loss of scholarships (MPR, Timeline, 1999). Such sanctions caused further trouble for the university as it means an overall loss of revenue and places athletic programs in “rebuilding mode,” placing them


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