Friday, August 26, 2005

Athletes 'Dancing' Out Of Class

Huggins Forgot About The Classroom

It may have seem shocking that Heisman Trophy winner, Matt Leinart, was enrolled in just one class--dancing!--until you note that he needs only two more units to graduate. Don't they have woodshop at USC?

While the broad shouldered QB from SoCal is a good student, we were reminded of other institutions that are less productive in churning out degrees or even students who go to class while participating in intercollegiate athletics.

Bob Huggins was fired this week as the head basketball coach at the Univerisity of Cincinnati for many reasons that have simmered over his 14 seasons at the school.

He was taken to task for being surly and confrontational and his DUI a few years back helped burnish his bad reputation, but ironically, nobobdy mentioned his dismal graduation rates while coaching the Bearcats to 12 consecutive NCAA tournaments.

Even in the high stakes business of college basketball a head coach is still, at his core, at teacher like anybody else on campus. To gloss over Huggins' poor leadership in getting kids to class, as commentator Dick Vitale did on SportsCenter Wednesday, is the problem with college athletics, or the "big check" as the school president might say.

This ultimately, comes down to money and the free labor that college athletes give in exchange for the chance to play for professional scouts. The universities tout how a degree from their schools could translate into huge earning power in the future. Who's getting the better deal when a dozen individuals at North Carolina can win a national championship, as they did last year, and garner the school an extra $20 million?

The school president has become more of a general manager in the sports world than the final word on education at any given school.

There were literally years when none of Huggins basketball players graduated from Cincy. Oh, but Vitale says he was getting better. The coaching fraternity is akin to the circle of trust in the Police Department. Everyone is a nice, hard working guy and damn you for criticizing such a person.

Yeah, damn you, for not teaching the students.