Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sure They Can Play Basketball but Can they Spell?

A report released by Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports on Monday shed light that many teams in the NCAA’s field of 64 are graduating players at an alarmingly low rate.

For example, of the freshman classes at Ohio State from 1996 – 1999 only 10% actually received a degree from the school. These are athletes we are talking about and many of them move on to the lucrative dollars of professional sports or they transfer out to another program so that shouldn’t count against the school. After they were brought there to play basketball not earn a degree.

When you take into account players who transfer, enter from junior colleges and are graduated late, 38% of Buckeyes basketball players earned degrees during that period. So there you have it a 28% spike but the Buckeyes aren’t the only ones not graduating players. Check out these teams and their graduation rates.

Using the yardstick Graduation Success Rates -- which accounts for players who transfer to other schools and receive degrees -- players entering from junior colleges and those who receive degrees more than six years after enrollments, 9 percent of Florida A&M players, 19 percent of Eastern Kentucky, 40 percent of Kansas and 50 percent of Oregon players were graduated, according to the study, written by Lapchick and Maria Bustamante.

No basketball player from Florida A&M, Eastern Kentucky or Oregon received a degree from those four freshman classes and Florida A&M, New Mexico State, and Texas A&M could actually be subject to loss of basketball scholarships next year because of poor graduation rates.

Despite the fact that the NCAA is making some serious coin off the basketball players from these particular institutions they are going to bite the hand that feeds them and then punish the hand for the teeth marks. With the commercialization of college basketball and the television contracts putting every conference in the national spotlight competition has never been higher and Division I coaches have never been under more pressure.

Kevin Durant and Greg Oden are two of the best players in all of college basketball. There is no way they are going to graduate from their respective shools in four years. Instead, they’ll be bathing in the millions of dollars offered by the NBA and their other endorsement deals. Instead of being punished for bringing Durant to Texas Rick Barnes should be commended by both the Big 12 Conference and the NCAA for all the dollars Durant made them.

I shelled out $40.00 for a ticket to go see Durant play and I absolutely hate Texas. It wasn’t Texas I wanted to see it was the future NBA All-Star, and by future I mean next year, that was playing for them. Imagine how many people are buying Texas and Ohio State basketball jerseys because of these two guys. Imagine how many people turned on their televisions and boosted the ratings allowing the NCAA to capitalize on television revenue. This weekend’s NCAA tournament ratings could be the highest ever and the further these two freshmen advance the tournament the higher the ratings will go.

Who cares if they don’t graduate? They’ve done their job for the fans by giving us entertainment. They’ve done their job for the school and the NCAA by making outrageous amounts of money for them and they’ve even done right for themselves by financially securing their futures. School? That should be an afterthought!