Let me begin by saying this idea has some holes in it, but hear me out. This is an idea born in the car, driving to pick up my daughter, and carpool notions can be a bit rough around the edges.
There are a number of things that plague college sports and cause it to have a dual personality – a multi-billion dollar industry and an amateur association. Sometimes these items conflict with one another.
It, potentially, could improve graduation rates among athletes.
One of the biggest issues that the NCAA seems to face is a lack of accountability for college scholarship athletes. Too many times have there been athletes that play for a year or two under amateur status, fracture one, or many, rules, and by the time that their cases are fully investigated the athlete has already turned pro.
So who bears the brunt of the “discipline”? All the kids who are still on the team, some of whom weren’t even on campus when the infraction occurred.
This has never seemed right. Granted, if that player received an award, the NCAA will potentially strip him and the team of any wins or championships they won. But does that make it unhappen? No.
Along those same lines, one of the biggest issues that causes infractions is stability – or lack thereof. A “free education” is an amazing perk, but if you are a student athlete with an unstable home, or possibly an athlete trying to help support your family, you need the ability to help financially without repercussions.
For the record, I’m not talking about “supporting” your family by buying a fancy house or car with the generous donation of a donor. I think most kids are willing to work to earn what they get. And let’s be honest, student athletes work hard.
In this case, a scholarship may not be the best bet. Instead, what if we get rid of scholarships and turn them into student loans. That’s right. Student loans.
Classify these new student loans as “Scholarship Loans”. If a player attends a college or university, earns a college scholarship loan, participates in the sport and graduates, earning a diploma during the time he, or she, is eligible then that loan is forgiven. Upon graduation, that loan would become a traditional scholarship. However, if a student is found to have violated an NCAA rule that results in a sanction against his alma mater, then the scholarship becomes a student loan.
Now, if a student athlete plays for a year or two and then decides to leave school early and turn pro in the sport he received a “scholarship loan” in, he would be required to pay the balance of the loan used during his time on campus.
Obviously, there would have to be exceptions made to this rule for students who are injured, or may have to leave school because of an economic situation at home, etc.
But the question remains – Why do this? First of all, it adds more accountability to the student athlete after they leave campus. It, potentially, could improve graduation rates among athletes. And, here’s a sneaky caveat: it could help to protect scholarship money on the university level and possibly free up money to pay athletes, or offer better work study opportunities for students who may be supporting a family while going through school.
I’m going to remind you that this is a carpool idea. Yes, it’s different. Crazy? Maybe. But I’ll let you decide – is the Scholarship Loan Brilliant or Insane?
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Creed Anthony is a veteran classroom teacher, longtime blogger and father of two. You can also find him at talesfromthepoopdeck.com.