Aaron Green: President Machen should lead college atheletic reform
Published: Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 1:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 1:40 p.m.
I was glad to see my old law professor, Joe Little, chime in on the present state of college athletics ("The Perfect Storm"; Jan. 11th Speaking Out). He has an opinion about everything. He was the same way when we were on the City Commission, 1975-1978.
Little is mostly right in his assessment of the current state of college athletics, be it football or basketball, or whatever. College athletes are only gladiators in the sports arena for the alumni and their respective universities, at whatever price. I especially agree with Little's belief that only the presidents of the major universities can correct this dirty business where universities prey on the poor kids who look at a college scholarship as an opportunity to audition for a job in the NFL. I only wish Little would have gone further and challenged the president of the University of Florida to take the leadership and propose some changes to the rules at the current NCAA Convention.
The leadership of President Machen would resonate throughout college athletics, and at least, it could begin a conversation to look at meaningful reform in the system of how college athletes are perceived as students and future citizens in their communities. Are universities really a farm system for the NFL, or are they concerned about the immediate and long term education and training of their athletes to assimilate into their communities after they leave or graduate? President Machen could be shouted down, as I know how these so called collegial organizations operate. If Machen does not try to initiate change, the "perfect storm" is continued for potential abuses of athletes that universities continue to recruit from the projects of Durkeeville (Jacksonville) and Overtown (Miami) and many others throughout Florida and the country.
There will be continued sales of personal memorabilia, as reported by the Ohio State players, or the Reggie Bush debacle where the Heisman Trophy was eventually returned; or incidents like those at Georgia and North Carolina where players were suspended, which arguably affected their seasons. All because the athlete wanted enough money to take a date to the movie; or to buy a shirt, some socks or underwear. Little is right to suggest playing the players a stipend for work study.
President Machen would be right to begin the conversation for some kind of reform with the other university presidents.