Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Are academic deans furious and waxing wroth over the latest athletic scandal?

The athletics-driven higher education is finally in some serious shit.
Way past time.
But at least now.

What happened, you ask?
For 18 years, thousands of students at the prestigious University of North Carolina took fake "paper classes," and advisers funneled athletes into the program to keep them eligible, according to a scathing independent report released Wednesday. ...
In all, the report estimates, at least 3,100 students took the paper classes, but the figure "very likely falls far short of the true number."
If ever one needed a metaphorical smoking gun in order to take the issue seriously, well, now there is no denying it.
"As an athlete, we weren't really there for an education," Rashad McCants, the second-leading scorer on the championship University of North Carolina basketball team 10 years ago, told CNN's Carol Costello. "You get a scholarship to the university to play basketball," he said. In other words, the point wasn't for him to actually learn. That's just sad.
"The university makes money off us athletes," McCants told Costello, "and they give us this fake education as a distraction." When McCants first made these remarks, university representatives tried to shoot the messenger, attacking him and his credibility.
Remember the lawsuits against the NCAA that colleges and the sports body were simply making money off the students who were hired under the guise of "student-athletes" but were, ahem, not students and only athletes?  The whole thing is a "subversion of the academy":
 The NCAA is a cartel of the major athletic universities in the United States that sets wages, playing conditions, and other aspects of intercollegiate athletics. Most prominently of these is a restriction on payments to football and basketball players. These two sports create billions of dollars in local and national revenues via gate receipts, TV contracts, and ancillary merchandise, not to mention millions of dollars annually at member schools in donations by alumni and other supporters of athletic programs.
It is a tangled web that was woven at UNC.  A web that involved even a, wait for it, ethics professor!  Yep, an ethics professor, who "directed the university’s Parr Center for Ethics," was totally in the middle of this scandal!

The president of Macalaster College is furious:
this is not fundamentally an issue about sports but about the basic academic integrity of an institution. Any accrediting agency that would overlook a violation of this magnitude would both delegitimize itself and appear hopelessly hypocritical if it attempted, now or in the future, to threaten or sanction institutions—generally those with much less wealth and influence—for violations much smaller in scale.
Most of us work very hard to conform to the standards imposed by our regional accrediting agencies and the federal government. If falsified grades and transcripts for more than 3,000 students over more than a decade are viewed as anything other than an egregious violation of those standards, my response to the whole accreditation process is simple: Why bother?
Exactly!  Why bother with real work?  I agree with him that the university should lose its accreditation until it is able to convince us that the grades mean something.
The crime involves fundamental academic integrity. The response, regardless of the visibility or reputation or wealth of the institution, should be to suspend accredited status until there is evidence that an appropriate level of integrity is both culturally and structurally in place.
Anything less would be dismissive of the many institutions whose transcripts actually have meaning.
Of course, that will not happen.  Because, dammit, that won't happen!  After all, this ain't anything new :(


Ramesh said...

The NCAA is an ass. Its a delusion of America that "college basketball" and "college football" has got anything to do with college - its basically the equivalent of the youth programs of Real Madrid or Manchester United. Its a complete farce that nobody else in the world can understand.

Sriram Khé said...

A farce, indeed. A tragic farce :(

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