The NCAA, ethics, and UNC
Deadspin posted this story today: UNC Athletes Were Steered To School’s Sports Ethics Professor. It’s the latest in the scandal that is happening at UNC academic fraud case related the the athletics department. It’s an easy joke to make: ethics professor leading the way in unethical behavior. And this was exactly my first thought. There is something about college sports that makes adults act like idiots and fools. I’ll never get it.
But then I thought, what exactly is unethical about what she, Jan Boxill, is alleged to have done? She is basically alleged to have given passing grades to athletes who were doing almost nothing. Sure, if these students are trying to get a degree, giving them credit for nothing is clearly unethical and devalues the degree for everyone. But a lot of these athletes aren’t there to get some B.S. (pun intended) degree in [insert joke major]. This is big time college sports. They are there to prepare for a career in sports. And she is doing the best she can to help them focus on preparing for that career by keeping them eligible. Remember, these students have almost no other options in preparing for a career in sports. They pretty much have to bow down to the NCAA for at least a year.
Imagine this scenario in reverse where a student desperately wanted to be a physicist, but they wouldn’t let him or her work in the lab because they were failing basketball. That’s insane. But it happens all the time with sports. That’s why I think that students should be able to major in a sport. Call it athletic studies. Make them take courses in finance, kinesiology, sports management, and whatever sport they are interested in.
The garbage argument in response to this is always, but most people don’t go on to play professional sports. If getting a job in your major is the criteria for allowing a major to exist, then we need to get rid of philosophy, music, art, english, etc. Basically anything outside of STEM. (Speaking of ethics, is it really ethical to let an 18 year old study philosophy for 4 years and send them out into the world with $200K in debt? At least some athletes don’t have to pay for their lack of marketable skills.)
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that, isn’t it possible that in some weird twisted way Boxill is actually acting ethically? Or at least more ethically than one of the the lowest ethical bar setting organizations in the US: the NCAA?