Jonathan Mahler’s article “Student-Athlete Equation Could Be a Win-Win,” was a good overview of what Mahler aptly called a “dysfunctional system” – intercollegiate athletics. There is little doubt the current system is broken. Today’s commercialized college sports programs — primarily football and men’s basketball — have little to do with education. There are three potential options to remedy the situation:

1) Eliminate varsity athletics. The U.S. is the only country that ties top-level athletic programs to schools. In most countries, students go to schools for academics and sports clubs to train and compete in athletics. Our colleges and universities could simply focus on physical education, intramural sports and student-run club teams;

2) Eliminate athletic scholarships. Treat athletes in varsity programs like other students. Financial aid would be based on need or academic merit. This isn’t as radical as it might seem. Athletic scholarships were banned by the NCAA for the first 50 years of the organization’s existence;

3) Re-classify big-time college sports programs as for-profit subsidiaries under the university umbrella. Stop the hypocrisy and remove the tax-exempt status these programs operate under as educational institutions. Pay the athletes what they’re worth in a competitive marketplace and make class attendance optional.

All three options would be more honest than the current ethically-challenged NCAA system.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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