Something colleges are pretty good at is keeping student athletes eligible to play sports. They’re also pretty good at graduating athletes. While no-show class scandals like the one unfolding at UNC get the headlines the more pedestrian reality is that student athletes just get a lot of support. That’s good for them, they earn it. But why not provide that same support for first-in-family college students, low-income students, and other students at-risk of not finishing? I take a look at that question in a new U.S. News & World Report column this morning:
As you can tell from the brackets circulating around your office or email inbox, it’s NCAA basketball tournament time. The actual odds of you picking a perfect bracket from the 68 eligible college teams? Experts say 1 in 9.2 quintillion is a conservative estimate. So here’s a better and somewhat counterintuitive bet: College athletes are more likely to graduate from college than students overall.
Yes, that sounds crazy given the stereotypes and the barrage of college sports scandals, most recently the revelations about University of North Carolina professors running no-show classes for athletes. And yes, there is too much bad behavior in the “amateur” world of big time college sports. Still, here’s the more pedestrian reality for most student athletes: They experience college differently than most students and enjoy a variety of powerful social and academic supports along the way. These helping hands range from help with personal finance management and how to navigate a grocery store (shop on the outside where the fresh food is, stay out of the middle where the processed stuff is) to tutoring, special study labs, and academic coaching.
The entire column is here. I’d like to hear your feedback, any bracket tips, or betting tips more generally on Twitter @arotherham. And if you were a student athlete and benefited from some of these supports tell me about it!