Is college admissions truly becoming an uphill battle in a rigged system that only favors recruited athletes? A system that seeks to disenfranchise youth from attending their dream school merely so some jocks can rough it out on the field with an unnecessary free education? An education that is much more deserved by someone who knows how to best take advantage of it?
Or is it possible that recruited athletes and academic admits are mutually exclusive, albeit in the same “system.”
The only institution for recently matured adults to pursue athletic talents is at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). A large majority of sports dont have minor league or semi-pro teams, such as in Europe or South America, but this role has been developed by the United States’ university system.
But to view NCAA sports as only a stepping stone to a professional sports career does not take into account the full context of college sports programs. At the largest football programs in the nation, alumni donations and public state appropriations are critical to the operating budget. Often, some of the highest funded university foundations are ones that support athletic programs, according to the operating budget of Texas A&M University. Donors to schools like these feel inclined to support winning athletic programs, in turn providing incentive for schools to build winning teams. Offering a star athlete a generous scholarship is nothing to a school’s budget compared to the donations and increased number of applicants a school will receive if that athlete improves a sports program.
Often, the rebuttal against large financial aid to athletes is that for only at 1% of football programs is it true that the profits outweigh the scholarships. However, it is only the top 1% of programs that can afford to offer sports scholarships in the first place.
Criticism of sports recruiting also arises when the school on top is competitive for admission, and a select few athletes are chosen to attend, while many academically qualified students are denied. Many denied students every year look for reasons they did not get in, thus reopening the debate on athletic admits.
However, rejected applicant’s spots are not “taken” by someone less academically qualified in the name of sports. Spots are in fact “added” to the the class to make room for an athlete, not reappropriated from one that was supposed to go to a regular
applicant. Regardless, the average number of recruited athletes is substantially less than the expected yield of students admitted but would not attend an institution.
Athletes play an important role on any university campus. Many freshmen are looking forward to attending their first College Football Saturday. Many seniors are going to miss the pre-game tailgates. And many athletes are going to relish the time, work, effort, and spirit they spent honing their abilities as they prepare for one of the 24 NCAA sports. Any athlete at the NCAA level does not merely play or participate in their sport, but it is the most important characteristic to who they are. If one were to look at a student-athlete as less worthy of a spot on a university’s campus than yourself, you would be discrediting quite literally their entire life’s work. It is clear to see the benefits scholarships have in rewarding student athletes and schools.