As a faculty member at a small Division III liberal arts
college and former Division I student-athlete, I found myself
reflecting upon real-world occurrences that deserve further
consideration in terms of intercollegiate athletics in higher
education and the dichotomies that exist.
The term dichotomy can be used to indicate contradictory
qualities in a given situation or circumstance. Such could
describe institutions of higher education as they struggle to
balance academic and athletic endeavors, both of which can
have positive and life-changing impacts on students. For
some, athletic scholarships open doors for a college degree.
Once student-athletes begin their journey, they are able to
expand their minds and bodies beyond what would have
been possible otherwise. Being a successful student-athlete
also includes developing effective time management and
multitasking skills, both which are transferable throughout
life. The likelihood of obtaining a college degree is greater for
NCAA student-athletes; graduation rates are higher than that
of the general student population, according to the NCAA.
This has a life-changing impact from a financial perspective.
Median lifetime earnings of those with a bachelor’s degree are
65 percent higher than those who only have a high school
degree, the NCAA says. Even with all the positives, the
negatives resonated deeply within me as my students discussed
and debated topics such as issues at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.
As a former student-athlete at the University of North
Carolina, I was saddened when news of academic discrepancies
broke. The university first discovered academic irregularities
within the African and Afro-American Studies department,
formerly known as AFAM, in 2011. UNC self-reported to
the NCAA and began an investigation. However, the former
AFAM department chair, Julius Nyang’oro, and former
department administrator Deborah Crowder were unwilling
to be interviewed since both were preparing for criminal
investigations. Many in-depth logistical questions regarding
the breadth and scope of the academic irregularities were left
unanswered. The criminal investigation was completed near
“I JUST WISH THEY CARED”:
DICHOTOMIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION
AND INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS
A recent Gallup-Purdue University study found that there are six college experiences that
best prepare students for the real world after college. Three of the six experiences were:
Having a professor who created excitement about learning;
Having a professor who cared;
Having a mentor who encouraged goals and dreams.