Yet Another Problem With NCAA Athletics
I can’t give this the full treatment I’d like to at this point, but I’d be remiss to not comment on what’s been going on with Rutgers mens basketball head coach Mike Rice.
In a nut shell, thousands of hours of video has surfaced that shows Mike Rice physically and verbally berating his players. When the university was initially made aware of his actions, he was suspended for 3 games in December. Since ESPN’s Outside the Lines blew up the story yesterday, they have since fired Rice.
There are a lot of things I could talk about, such as…
… his flagrant use of misogynistic and homophobic slurs.
… the difference between “tough love” and emotional instability.
… or how the university’s decision making process changed not because of new evidence but because of existing evidence going public.
Instead, I’ll focus on the part that is sticking in my craw, which is the perverse incentives that athletic scholarships create and how they contributed to this problem. While listening to sports radio dissect this situation yesterday, a number of former college athletes and their parents called to weigh in. Most of these, including the vast majority of Rutgers basketball players, have little pro potential and sports remains an avenue to an education. And most of them shared a similar sentiment: that this behavior is directly related to the power that coaches and universities have over athletes through the scholarship system. Speak out against an abusive coach? Stand up for yourself? You’re off the team… and out of school. Many spoke to their experiences as students, having to suck up and deal with such indignities because they knew of no other way to get the college education they were desperately saying. Parents spoke of telling their children to buck up, to be the “bigger man” despite dealing with professionals two or three times their age, because they would not be able to provide the money for their children to remain in school.
Fuck the NCAA.