Sports teams can ruin universities’ credibility

Story by Kyle Davis

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Sports can be great assets to universities.

Watching amateur athletes compete and succeed, while representing the school’s name on the front of their jerseys, can bring students together, help with enrollment and make money for the school.

But just as athletics can enhance the image of a university, it can just as easily diminish it’s credibility. With multiple allegations and sanctions regarding cheating on both college football and basketball teams in recent years, including the University of North Carolina football team, University of Tennessee and University of Memphis basketball teams and most notably the University of Southern California football team, the impression left reaches further than the stadium.

In several cases, investigations have been made looking into players’ eligibility, either through test scores and grade point average or accepting gifts or working with an agent.

Universities want their sports programs to succeed; it brings in money for the school and gets the school’s name out across the country in a positive way, and it sometimes seems as if the school will do anything to succeed.

But the wrong message is being sent when schools make exceptions for athletes and don’t require the same academic standards as other students.

The reason for not allowing athletes to enter the professional sports scene straight out of college makes sense; it allows them to grow as people before entering the real world.

However, when athletes look ahead to the professional game, by taking bribes and gifts, or by not taking attending college seriously, it is the universities that suffer.

This is more than sports. The sports programs will survive. What can be more difficult is clearing the university’s name after an athletic scandal takes place.

Sports market universities. When hearing the University of Kansas, people think basketball.

If it’s the University of Alabama, people think football.

Schools are branded in part by their athletic teams, and need to do more to protect their images. Universities need to not put athletics on so high a pedestal and not allow students on campus who are not academically qualified to be there and who are immune to the requirements and expectations of the rest of the university.

The athletes will be gone after a short amount of time, but the ramifications and memories of the scandals will stay with the school for much longer.