Academic fraud overshadows success among college athletes

Published 12:48 pm Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It’s that time again. Yet another academic scandal is tarnishing the NCAA and college athletics.

Last week, an investigative survey by CNN’s Sara Ganim reported that college basketball and football players at some of the country’s most prestigious universities are failing to meet the requirements needed to succeed academically at a college level. Mary Willingham, a former University of North Carolina learning specialist, told CNN that she researched the reading levels of 183 Chapel Hill graduates who played football and basketball from 2004 to 2012, finding that 60 percent read between a fourth- and eighth- grade level and about 10 percent read below a fourth-grade level.

The study clearly exposes an underlying problem that has plagued college athletics for decades. It certainly is an area that needs to be addressed, but what about the institutions and students that are doing it the right way? And, what about the high schools that produce these athletes?

Athletes and institutions engaging in fraud, misconduct and underachievement have unjustly taken the success stories and overachievers out of the spotlight.

With visits from North Carolina State Head Coach Mark Gottfriend and UNC Head Coach Roy Williams, Northside High School’s sophomore superstar Edrice Adebayo is a likely candidate to play at the Division I level in 2016. “He’s a good example of what an athlete should look like going to college. He’s a great kid with a great work ethic,” said Northside Athletic Director Barry Boyd.

Head Coach Michael Proctor seems to agree.

“He has gotten so much better this year over last year. He just keeps getting better and better and better. Like I tell everybody, he’s a better person than he is a player.”

The fact is, there are high schools across the country producing athletes who are not academically ready for college. There are universities that trade academic success for athletic performance. And, there are athletes who will find ways to cheat the NCAA system.

But above all, what’s most important is recognizing those athletes and institutions that go about their business the right way. They’re the ones who deserve the headlines.