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Academic Based Rewards for Athletics

Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher’s speech gave me an idea

NCAA Football: MAC Championship-Bowling Green vs Northern Illinois Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

At the MAC Media Day, Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher gave his “State of the MAC” speech. One of the many things that caught my attention was his comments on transfers. You can watch the entire speech here. Specifically, he said that more data was needed in regards to undergraduate transfers.

When I asked him later to clarify that comment, he said that they don’t have enough data on how a transfer affects a student athlete. One example he used was that while students with a 3.5 GPA might be able to play right away with no ill effects, a student with a lower GPA might need time to adjust. Aside from reinforcing my belief that he truly has the student athlete’s best interest in mind, it also got my wheels spinning.

Academic based rewards for athletes.

In the case of transfers, this is already partially the case. If a student graduates with eligibility remaining, they can transfer where ever they want, and play right away. There could be a tier system for undergraduates. Earn a 3.5, go where you want, when you want. A 3.0 allows you to transfer outside of the conference without a wait. So on and so forth. There could also be stricter guidelines for transfer students to remain academically eligible to play. I would be more than happy to let someone with Dr. in front of their name to iron out the details.

A little side effect of this policy might decrease academic scandals like they had at North Carolina. Maybe they aren’t so keen to let their players not attend class if they can then use those “grades” to play at State.

While I am always concerned about the student-athlete, my wheels didn’t stop spinning there. What if this reward system was extended to the athletic programs. Obviously these rewards couldn’t be based on GPA, as I am certain some schools would make the UNC scandal seem like a minor issue. There could, however, be a standardized test given to athletes that earn each program rewards.

While it’s fantastic that a team can earn a New Years Six birth on the field, it would be interesting to see if they could earn it in the classroom. There is a giant gap of time between the regular season and the bowl games. It would provide the perfect opportunity to test the players with class based standardized tests.

Sure, they earned the spot on the field, so they get to play for the prize. However, if they fail, a portion of the money goes to schools that are teaching their kids. Maybe with enough fails, schools are no longer able to compete for certain bowl games until they bring their scores up. It’s a big, crazy idea that has a lot of details to work out.

Well, it’s not so crazy. There is already a lot of student in student athlete. Kids can’t play with bad grades. When it’s time for 5 win teams to make a bowl game, they are selected based on how they do in the classroom.

The local radio guys here in Columbus said that college football is just the minor leagues of the NFL. I don’t look at it that way. I don’t believe most actual college football fans look at it that way. A testing system that proves these guys are more than just athletes might actually be needed to prove that college football is not just minor league football.