The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 30, 2014

Student Voice: TV ratings, revenue lead the way


The Daily Item

— Every year, the National College Athletic Association (NCAA), gives out $1.5 billion in athletic scholarships distributed among hundreds of Division I and Division II schools. These scholarships are given to student-athletes to cover tuition and fees, room, board and required course-related books.

Only about 2 percent of high school students are awarded athletic scholarships; therefore obtaining and maintaining one requires a good balance of academic success and athletic achievement. This isn’t the case today, however.

CNN recently released an article discussing the truth behind those athletes who are given the opportunity to attend Division I universities on a full-ride scholarship. With the information that I was able to read, I strongly support the idea of testing those “superstar” athletes regularly, so they are capable of proving their excellence during their years at college. In addition, universities should overlook athletic talent and prohibit those who fall below the national test average and the requirements for admissions. The article was titled, “Some college athletes play like adults, read like fifth graders.” This speaks loudly and requires little explanation.

I was in utter disbelief; this article exposed the academic injustices occurring in some of the nation’s top-ranked schools in athletics. It turns out that some graduates of these top schools are incapable of reading and writing at a higher than an eighth-grade level, they lack basic math skills, and their SAT scores fell way below admittance level. Researchers sought entrance exam scores and aptitude tests from 37 institutions, but only 21 schools willingly gave up the information.

A study was done at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with athletes who played basketball or football from 2004 to 2012. Evidence showed that 60 percent read between fourth-grade and eighth-grade levels and between 8 percent and 10 percent read below a third-grade level. How is this possible? Who is monitoring the actions and decisions of the NCAA? More importantly, how are universities allowing these students to graduate with four-year degrees when they cannot read or write?

In addition, the NCAA admitted almost 30 athletes, who make more revenue for the school, were accepted in 2012 with extremely low scores, such as a 700 on the SATs. As a junior in high school, I am constantly reminded about the importance of a quality education, and the requirements that are essential to be accepted into a good school. I am also a victim of the stresses and anxiety that are the SATs, because they are said to be a key aspect in college acceptance. So, when confronted with the information that these accomplishments don’t seem to matter if you are a revenue-producing athlete, is absolutely dumbfounding. When did athletics and television ratings become more important than an education and future?  

The information in this article should be upsetting to every high school student getting ready to apply to their dream university, navigate their financial aid and then wait for their acceptance letter. I believe student athletes who score below the school’s requirements should not be allowed to attend. The NCAA needs to ensure that these athletes are academically prepared for college before they step on field or court.

Molly Davis,

Mifflinburg High School