Put the “student” back in student-athletePublished 10:43am Thursday, March 6, 2014
Last week, I made a drastic mistake and committed to writing about baseball. What a dumb move that was, and I really should have had a V8 before I put it in writing.
After doing a little research – which is what I enjoy doing – I came up with a little information every SEC fan wants to read.
Everyone in the Land of Oz (SEC) knows that the SEC is by far the best conference in college football. Well, don’t let me be the one to spoil the rumor. In fact, I will take it one step beyond, by telling you the Southeastern Conference – specifically college football – is also the frontrunner every year in arrests, citations and charges.
Since 2010, the numbers have been alarming and for the most part, very disturbing. The statistics are a matter of public record, so nothing here is fabricated.
SEC arrests, citations and charges since 2010 with the 2014 number in parenthesis:
Missouri leads with 18 (two in 2014), Tennessee and Florida tied with 16 (Tennessee has 10 in 2014, Florida has one), Georgia had 15, Ole Miss had 14 (four in 2014), Texas A&M and Arkansas tied with 13, Kentucky comes in with 12, Auburn had 10, Alabama had nine, South Carolina had eight, LSU and Mississippi State tied with six, and Vanderbilt had three (one in 2014).
We all know that these are student-athletes and most of them are 18-to-21-year-olds who probably do not know any better, right?
The perception from those outside of the SEC college football world is that the conference is infested with thugs (excluding Vanderbilt).
My theory is that it has nothing to do with the conference as a whole, nor does it have anything to do with where they live. No, it has everything to do with economics, parenting and the runaway train called winning.
Economics dictate our survival; parents turn their heads and do not parent, and the world of sports only cares about the bottom line.
College athletes, even the most mature students, may find themselves in situations where their experiences simply fail to prepare them for what may happen.
They need to be able to protect themselves and recognize the risks when associating with certain individuals or being in certain places.
That is where the parenting and the institution must come together and sing from the same sheet of music.
Point: If you’re a college student playing sports, that makes you a student-athlete. If you are seeking a profession other than sports, then you are a serious student.
Either way, academics and eligibility should come first. The university also has an obligation to make sure these two areas are taken seriously.
There have been recent situations where institutions turned their backs on what was going on with the student-athlete after enrollment. The failure to teach ethical behavior prior to the student ever enrolling creates an environment that not only threatens a student’s college future, but sets the tone for the “at-risk” student beyond the educational level.
All you need to do is watch and listen to an athlete being interviewed on television. I have a good grasp of the English language, but what I hear during some of these interviews leaves me speechless.
The NCAA must also watch these students during their interviews, so why are more schools not being investigated?
My common sense makes me want to address the notion that maybe the athlete is not a student-athlete at all.
The thing most colleges fear when it comes to compliance is the dreaded “lack of institutional control” penalty that the NCAA hands out to institutions who turn their heads and assume the position of an ostrich.
If the institution is honest with the fact that most, but not all student-athletes are hoping to turn pro in something other than sports, then for the few that are more athlete than student, it should be imperative and mandated by the NCAA that these kids are provided with an honest education, so their academic qualifications will guarantee them a degree that is meaningful when they enter the real world.
When it comes to academics, integrity and character, the student-athlete and the university should be on the same page.
Until next time …
Meyers is a sports columnist for The Outlook. You may follow him on Twitter at @brucemeyers11.