RichRod’s contract says it all: We care about you as athletes, not students

A couple of lines in the contract of the new University of Arizona football coach demonstrates what many in higher education have said for years – and what came out more recently in analysis of the Penn State scandal: College athletics, in particular football, are abusive and dishonest in their very nature. There can be no better evidence of this dishonesty than in the term “scholar-athletes.” If the emphasis was truly on the former, Rich Rodriquez’s contract would not offer a $150,000 bonus for winning a BCS national title game while only offering a mere $5,000 for a team average – not individual, mind you, just average –  GPA of 2.6. (See bottom of this article for contract breakdown.)

If the University of Arizona and the Arizona Board of Regents REALLY thought the most important thing for these young men was a college education instead of being pimped out by the university and the board for fan entertainment value, they would offer RichRod $150,000 for a team average GPA of 2.6 and (wait for it) no bonus for winning. Why should he get a bonus for winning? That’s his job and at a base salary of $1.45 million, I’m thinking he’s well-enough paid. The thing that is difficult to do – and the thing that matters in the long run for the vast majority of those football players – is helping them get an education with a GPA that is good enough to help them get a job in the current economic marketplace.

But no, that’s not what the University or the Regents value – at least not by the looks of the contract. Fine by me, but the least they could do is be honest with the public, the professors at the university, and, most of all the players and their parents. Then again, I’m guessing a recruiting pitch that went like this wouldn’t go over too well: “Yes, Mrs. Smith, Johnny will be studying at one of the highest-ranked research universities in the nation. Of course, practice will come first and so he’ll have to pick a major that is flexible as far as when classes are offered and one that isn’t too demanding because he simply won’t have time to study. We know the vast majority of our student-athletes won’t make the pros so we do try to give them a backup plan, but we just have to limit their choices due to their football schedule. Our primary goal, as you can tell by my contract, is using your son to help us win a BSC national title because if we win, I get a bonus of $150,000!!  But we really DO care about him so we’ll give him a tuition waiver to attend the classes that he can in his major and a Dean’s Excuse to miss classes on the days we’re traveling for games. It’s a great deal!”

If RichRod was so fabulous – and if the UA administration and Regents really cared about these athletes as students – the coach and regents would flip Rodriguez’s contract around to have the bonuses aimed at academic success not athletic prowess. And for that matter, R-squared would say, “Hey, I don’t need $1.45 million (who needs that much money???). I’ll get by on a pawltry $200,000 plus bonuses and the university – being an academic institution and all – can spend the rest of that money on (shock!) academics.” If neither the university, the coach or the Regents are willing to do any such thing, they need to drop the pretense of “scholar-athletes” and come clean with everyone involved.

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23 comments

  1. Arizona lost academic standing under Shelton. It had nothing to do with athletics. It had to do with funding and a weak president.
     
    The yearly budget for Arizona is about 1.5 billion. UCLA for example has an annual budget well over 4 billion. The point being that athletics in no way is in the same category financially. Athletics are visible – very visible, while academics are not. The major impact on an institution like Arizona by athletics is in defining a brand – at least in the minds of those that ‘follow’ Arizona through media. Those that follow Arizona in research circles are probably unaffected.
     
    Athletics wont affect Arizona academically. Proper non-politicized funding and a good presidential hire will.
     
    As far as the athletes are concerned, most are not scholars … or care to be. Consider Derrick Williams who went pro this year forgoing the last two years of eligibility. Williams in 7th grade wanted to be in the NBA not middle school. Williams in 9th grade wanted to be in the NBA not highschool. Williams as a freshman wanted to be in the NBA not college. When given the chance, he jumped to the NBA and hasnt stopped smiling since.
     
    Are the kids being used? To an extent I’m sure they are. Each year you can identify players who will fail in college and not make it to the pros. And each year you can identify players who succeed in college and fail to make it to the pros. This group coming in is not scholarly. This is the norm. This is not Stanford – meaning – it is a public land grant school to which many many undeserving students will be eligible by definition. This includes undeserving (academically) athletes as well as state residents. Stanford is a private school that can do what it wishes.
     
    Were you to ask the question – how would the athlete have done in college had they attended as a normal student and not an athlete – I’m not at all certain the outcome would be much different.
     
    I wish them all well.
     

  2. I dont think you have considered just how little is done for the failing student who entered as a state resident. I honestly think football players get much more help than run of the mill students.
     
    Consider this … most students pay lab fees commenserate (sp) with costs. What would be the ‘lab’ fees applicable to a football player? Facilities? Equipment? Training and coaching? Travel? If they were treated as other students, their semester fees would be staggering. I’m not sure at all that they are treated badly. I will say they are treated better than most students – who are left to their own devices to sink or swim on their own.

  3. This is a classic case of a liberal wishing for the perfect world and forgetting they live in the real world.  Football, and Men’s Basketball, fund the Athletic Department.  Meaning Title IX programs too.  Worry less about a $5000 bonus for average GPA and more about the University of Arizona having to be like asu and cutting programs.    Besides, scholarships are mandated to have a specific GPA anyway so you’re crying about the grass being green.

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