By Christopher B. Daly
Today’s NYTimes greets the new year with a dismaying (though hardly surprising) story about the ways in which the NCAA extends its corrupting reach into college classrooms. It’s an extreme version of a common practice — providing fluff courses for intercollegiate athletes so that they can maintain their student status even while they are spending all their time in training for their schools’ teams (which are nothing more than farm teams for professional leagues).
This story is particularly dismaying because it involves charges of academic abuse that are so egregious that they caught the attention of a criminal prosecutor. Not only that, but the case involves UNC-Chapel Hill, where I went to graduate school in history, which is actually a fine, serious, and improving university. Yes, it is also an NCAA powerhouse in football, basketball, lacrosse, and other sports that fill stadia and attract national TV distribution.
Again, I ask: What educational purpose does the NCAA serve?
In my experience, the practice of intercollegiate athletics not only contributes nothing to students who participate, it also detracts from educating young people. The only educational purpose I can imagine is to serve as an object lesson in what not to do in economics, law, and ethics.