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Big Fat Zero

I am as big a Maryland basketball fan as anybody, but this is not a good thing to hear:

The Maryland men’s basketball team was the only one in the country that failed to graduate within six years any of its recruits who entered school between 1997 and 2000, NCAA statistics released today showed.

The program’s graduation success rate, calculated by an NCAA formula, fell for the third straight year at a time when graduation rates are rising nationally for men’s basketball programs. The number shows that none of starters and top reserves of Maryland’s 2002 national championship team graduated within six years of entering school.

I think the tension between the academic side and the big business side of college athletics are well documented. And maybe it is too much to expect student-athletes to achieve at high levels on the high pressure stage of athletics and academics at the same time.

But the fact of the matter is that most of these kids are getting full scholarships to attend a state school. Perhaps they are attending this public school at the expense of other children who may not have the academic credentials to get it. They may be going at the expense of a student who had the grades, but not the financial means to pay for school. The point is that these student-athletes are getting an opportunity that somebody else is not. They are getting a free education. Many of these athletes have made the most of their time in school, earned degrees, and gone about their business.

As a taxpayer in a state spending itself down a hole, I wonder how much state money is going to fund the education of student-athletes who don’t worry so much about the first of their responsibilities…


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