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UW-Madison Football Players Must Meet Academic Criteria, Coaches Need To Stay Quiet

August 1, 2015

Once again we are witnessing a story where the tail is attempting to wag the dog.

This time it is taking place at the UW-Madison where University of Wisconsin football coach Paul Chryst and UW athletic director Barry Alvarez are seeking to change the process concerning appeals on behalf of prospective student-athletes who do not meet the required academic standards.

The strange story of the coaches not knowing who is the final decision-maker for admissions came to a head this week over Jordan Stevenson.  He is a running back from Texas who was denied admission into UW by the admissions board based on academic concerns.  The player found a school that would take him. But it was rival Nebraska and the UW football coaches started to fume and plot.

About five years ago a policy change took place at the UW where coaches could no longer make appeals on behalf of prospective student-athletes to individual schools and colleges within the university.   The reason for the change is clear on its face.

But now the coaches want to change that policy.

The UW-Madison is a quality school of higher education and if one does not meet the academic standards or is proven to be unable to master the rigors of the classroom they need to seek another college.  Nothing more should be required to be heard on the matter.

That common sense thinking runs counter to what the football program cares about. For the coaches it is all about racking up a winning score on Saturday afternoon.

Many believe that only the best recruits for the classroom should be the ones selected to attend the UW. Some semi-illiterate player who will spend much of his time lifting weights or pondering the deeper world of a film major do not fit in with the values that most place on higher education.

When I talk to my friends around the country I am always proud to discuss the UW, a place recognized far and wide as a top-ranked global research university.

But what people like Chryst and Alvarez desire is to continually promote and enlarge the image of the UW as a NCAA powerhouse. Cut corners over who is allowed to be a student and work overtime to blunt the negative stories that arise from young people being tossed into the cash-ridden NCAA.

Many families across this state scrimp and save so they can hopefully send an academically-worthy child to the UW-Madison to mine the books.  It is therefore a slap to those families if a person who can only throw a football, but has high priced coaches working on his behalf, can also attend the school.

There is a sign on a building going up the hill towards Bascom Hall that speaks to the desire that real students had for attending this university in its formative days. Those students needed to make sure they obtained wood to keep the stove supplied for fire. It was not easy to be a student in those days, but they fully understood the value of an education and so did what was needed to attain it.

It is those same values that must lead the UW today. We can not allow the football coaches to water down the process of admissions.

  1. August 3, 2015 5:16 PM

    I have been waiting for someone to point this out. The purpose of the University is teaching, education and research. It is not its purpose to field athletic teams. Alvarez and Chryst have a conflict when they advocate for lowering standards for athletes. Alvarez and Chryst both stand to make more money off of endorsements and promotions to the extent the team wins. That outside income isn’t affected by whether “student athletes” graduate.

  2. Solly permalink
    August 3, 2015 1:18 PM

    Let’s do like Florida State, give the coaches the say, give the jocks a degree in map reading (a UW ROTC course I understand was very popular with certain ath-a-letes tooling around Madison in expensive SUVs) and basket-weaving and also give them a get-out-of-jail-free card like they do in Tallahassee. If they shoplift a little crablegs at a grocery store, I’m sorry, “forgot” to pay. Or misunderstand “no” from a co-ed, as long as they’re “good” on Saturday, no harm, no foul. We can trust Barry, after all, when one of his “star” football players had a DUI, he let him play for UW in an away nationally televised college hall of fame game against WV, which was top 10 ranked, and kept him out of the home Akron Zippers game, because as Barry said, “it hurt him more to miss a home game in his senior year.” When another of Barry’s players was arrested in Illinois for breaking and entering and theft, Barry immediately suspended him, and then immediately reinstated him pending disposition of the legal proceedings. Of course the lawyers dragged it out for 3 years, until no witnesses were left available, so no games lost. As the Church Lady would say, “How conveeeeeenient!” The player left early for Philly and washed out after an injury. But, he learned a life lesson from Barry’s coddling. Jack Ikegwuonu and his twin brother were just sentenced in federal court to 10 years in prison for a string of armed robberies in Madison to feed their heroin habit. No word if Barry gave a character reference at sentencing.

  3. August 1, 2015 3:35 PM

    For once you and I agree, pk, on the foundation of what you write. Money is at the root cause of college sports.

    But is that not a sad state of affairs.

    Were the football games back in the 40’s that are often written about due to their great rivalries or such any less fantastic for the fans of the day even though the cash for air time on TV was not yet developed or the threat of paying college kids a salary being discussed. At the root of this problem is exactly what you wrote…

  4. @pkarm56 permalink
    August 1, 2015 1:15 PM

    To call them student athletes in this day and age is silly. They are at school for one reason to play sports and make the school as much money as possible. Football and basketball is huge money for schools this isn’t the 1950s any longer it’s time to face the reality why sports exist in colleges. ….money

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