In "A new day for athletes" (Oct. 30), Paul Marx demonstrates an embarrassing lack of knowledge and research about his subject. The graduation rate by 2011 for all freshmen entering at all U.S. colleges and universities in 2005 was 59 percent, 61 percent for women and 56 percent for men. Meanwhile, "[a]ccording to the most recent Graduation Success Rate data 82 percent of Division I freshmen scholarship student-athletes who entered college in 2004 earned a degree. In Division II, 73 percent of freshmen student-athletes who entered college in 2004 graduated. The graduation rate data are based on a six-year cohort prescribed by the U.S. Department of Education."
Yes, a small percentage student athletes are admitted as "exceptional admits." But these numbers speak to the success of standards that indicate a high probability of success and the tutoring programs that exist in today's programs, not unlike programs in place for many high potential, non-athletes admitted to every institution.
While Mr. Marx was attending every home game at Michigan and Iowa, I was playing Division I football at one of the other Big Ten institutions with an annual graduation success rate in the top 10 percent nationally at 85 percent. While he was teaching English, I spent the early years of my career as an assistant dean at a large East Coast state university. Of the 800 living football lettermen from my alma mater who listed a career, the most common professions indicated enormous success. Some 15 percent played professional football as a first career, but 15 percent were corporate executives, 13 percent were K-12 educators, 13 percent were corporate sales executives, and 10 percent were professionals (doctors, lawyers, dentists, financial services, etc.).
I think contemporary college football players are still motivated by winning the game and earning opportunities to play at the next level. Like us, I seriously doubt that players in at least 100 of the Division I schools even know how much their coaches earn. And I would bet those who do see the high salaries as an institutional investment in their success as players.
In the 1960s when Mr. Marx was presumably warming a bleacher in the Big House, the NCAA scholarship cap provided for tuition, room, board, books and $15 per month "laundry money," period. Fifty years later, with 50-week football programs, no opportunities for summer employment and players predominantly from poorer families, the cap has not changed at $15, period. And scholarship student athletes do not qualify for any additional forms of aid, leaving their parents to sacrifice to subsidize their education.
For those of you who want to cheer for paid college athletes, contact Mr. Marx for more information on Michigan and Iowa. Or better yet, buy Orioles or Ravens tickets. For those of us who want to cheer for student athletes, 85 percent of whom graduate and two-thirds of whom become professional and community leaders, yes, speak up for a fairer allowances but stay true to the principles of the self discipline and dual success of those who actually pay a huge price to represent and succeed in your favorite institution of higher education.
Warren Hartenstine, Havre de Grace