The NCAA is getting rid of the testing requirement: Goodbye “student-athlete”.

The death knell for the student-athlete began ringing with the decision that these athletes deserve to control their own likeness and make deals for their images. This sounds like a fair idea on the surface. The argument is that athletes are making millions of dollars for their universities, and they are receiving almost nothing in return. So, instead of fixing the system, the education pendulum swung too far, and the system was partially destroyed. The “fix” certainly helps those star athletes at universities who will be able to make deals to sell their likenesses and have the ability to monetize their existence on campus (the NIL rules). Instead of arguing that this was a move too far, a group of well-meaning but ill-informed sports leaders have come together in an effort to “continue to fix the system”. Their next suggestion is to get rid of the NCAA requirement on testing. The argument is that testing is racist and is keeping students from getting the opportunities that they so richly deserve. Let’s take a look at this argument.

First, with this “racist testing in place”, college basketball is over 60% black while college students, in general, are only 15% black. Clearly, testing has not stood in the way of getting qualified students into the colleges of their choice. However, there remains ample abuse in the system. Students brought into colleges that they cannot possibly handle to play a semester or two before moving on. The argument here for these “one and done” students is that they have an opportunity to showcase their talents and then move on to a great career. If this were true, I’d be on board. Unfortunately, many fail out. Only 1.2% of all college athletes will have a professional career. There just aren’t that many jobs. Each year, in college basketball alone, 4,511 student-athletes play Division 1. 60 people are drafted each year. 50 are college students. These are only Division 1 numbers. Add in Division’s 2 and 3 and the odds of a student making the NBA is about 3 in 10,000.

This is not an argument made out of misguided paternalism. This is made from a hope that people wake up before the whole system of college athletics comes crashing down. The inequities in the system needed to be addressed. The NCAA, a system misguided and out of touch for far too long, has allowed students to have their scholarships pulled for a whole host of reasons including injuries, poor play, or even a coaching change. This should have been the first fix. Students who are qualified to be recruited and placed on the team should be given a 4-year scholarship to the universities they are recruited by. They should receive a true free ride: free books, school materials, food, room and board, and even an expense check to cover incidentals.

The specious argument that the kids have been harmed until now is ridiculous. Should they have been treated better? Of course. However, lower entry requirements, special treatment on campus, trips across the country, perks, and connections are all benefits that these students have always had. Do things need to be fixed? Of course. Does dumping the testing requirement fix it? Absolutely not. Colleges will now become a de facto minor league system for professional athletics. “Secondary sports” like rowing and volleyball (don’t get mad at me, I love ‘em) will be punished with small budgets or extinction in all but the most elite institutions with big pocket donors.

Answer this: Why is it fine for the NY Jets and Giants to put out horrendous products and still keep huge amounts of revenue to line their pockets but, it’s not fine for universities to use the money made from football to fund the lesser sports that make for a great, diverse sports program and campus?

Students of all types eventually “go pro”. Microsoft and others will recruit on campus and give perks and signing bonuses to their prospects. There are ways to open up the system for college athletes without destroying the system. Getting rid of testing is just one step closer to the destruction of college athletics. Not all students belong at all colleges, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or any other construct. People are different. That is Democracy with a capital D. All people are created equal but, develop differently. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Not all students need to learn Calculus. Not all students need to take Physics. Not all students need to take 8 years of foreign languages.

People are different. We need to accept that. Not different by race, or sex, or height, or weight, but different by ability. People need to develop their abilities. I cannot paint. It doesn’t matter how many art classes you give me I will not be Picasso. Do not stop Picasso from developing because I cannot paint.

Michael Marlowe

Fix the system. Do not throw the baby out when changing the bathwater. i

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