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Rant & Rave


Thursday, May 24, 2001

Athletics more
prized than academics

Once upon a time, maybe 20 or 30 years ago, a student who maintained a grade-point average of 4.0 or higher could likely get a full academic scholarship to a well-known college. However, in 2001 this is not the case.

Where is the incentive to get good grades when someone who maintains a C to C- average, yet is an outstanding athlete, is more likely to get a scholarship than someone with an A average?

The bottom line is money. How much return on the cost of tuition will that school get but paying the athlete's way to receive a degree at the end of four years?

The days of colleges seeking the next Nobel Prize recipient are gone.

A school that takes on such a scholar will likely have a long wait, while an athlete is the sure thing, bringing instant income from stadium ticket sales.

And if you're thinking about joining a team to cash in on this phenomenon, you must also be aware that not all sports scholarships are created equal.

For example, you would receive much less if you excelled in water polo than if you played football.

Football programs often cover 100 percent of tuition, while a student who plays water polo will get only 10 percent of his or her tuition paid.

Is this fair? No, because there are many deserving students who are not athletically inclined who need financial help.

Examining various college programs, I checked on the availability of academic scholarships. These varied from $500 to $2,000 each. With this small amount of money, students can barely cover the price of books per semester.

So, where does the rest of the money come from?

Parents, federal loans and having the student hold down a job, often while attending classes full-time. School administrators often speak eloquently of the way education should be a full-time job, but they have created a reality that is not conducive to studying.

I think I have a solution to this dilemma. Virginia Tech made $11 million for its participation in the Sugar Bowl. Some of that money could be earmarked for academic scholarships.

If I could change college scholarships, I would not suspend athletic scholarships, but I would initiate matching funding for scholars.

Who knows?

Wouldn't it be better to educate the next Albert Einstein or help someone to find the cure for cancer or AIDS?

It seems that would be more worthwhile than spending a few hours drinking beer and yelling from bleachers.

Jessica Krattinger is a junior who
attends school in Augusta County, Va.,
and reads the Star-Bulletin online.

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