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Drastic Surgery Needed for Collegiate Athletics

January 24, 1987

The Times' editorial (Jan. 9) is on the right track in urging further reforms in collegiate athletic programs; however, drastic surgery is needed, not your spineless palliative.

What is needed is to separate the functions of academic training from big-time athletics. Prohibit colleges from hiring any more athletes, but instead let any college sponsor a professional team, without the masquerade that the players have an academic connection with the college.

Instead, the team would be a self-supporting business enterprise, licensed for a fee to use the college name and to have access to athletic facilities, alumni lists and administrative support. Thus the college would still receive revenue and the side benefits of having its "own" team, but without also having around a bunch of "students" who can't meet the institution's standards.

Nobody loses under this plan. Alumni could still have their booster clubs and tailgate parties. They could still brag about their team and tell each other lies about the time they saved the homecoming game for Ole Swampwater U. by hiring away this great quarterback from a traditional rival.

And the teams would be better. Recruiting would be easier, with no inconvenient rules or entrance examinations to contend with. Players would be better, with no restrictive eligibility rules; and top-flight players, on finishing their careers in the major leagues, would join and add strength. Perhaps some would even want to take a course or two.

Who knows, after the system has been in use for a while, maybe informal athletic competitions will spring up among the students in the colleges? Something promoting a sound mind in a sound body, and complementing academic excellence instead of competing with it. Tennis, anyone?



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