FanDuel - WFBC

October 16, 2009

Can You Spell FSU?: If you're an athlete at Florida State University, probably not. The NCAA releases nearly 700 pages of its report detailing academic fraud at the university, and could take away 14 of Head Football Coach Bobby Bowden's career 384 wins. One FSU tutor testified that some players read at a second-grade level, and one student was so helpless, she had to read test questions for him...because he couldn't read.

posted by The_Black_Hand to football at 09:38 AM - 12 comments

The tutor said she read to the student because he had a learning disability. When I was in college, I got a job working with students (non-athletes) with learning disabilities. Depending on the disability, we were allowed to read chapters, test questions, or anything, but could not help them formulate any answers. All that to say, the reading of questions is not all that shockingly terrible to me. The issue of how much help to give students with learning disabilities is pretty complicated.

FSU should never have a special tutor for athletes. It is a recipe for disaster. They should help fund regular tutoring and help fund the office for students with disabilities. and athletes should just use those services. I think it is pretty interesting that the NCAA, not Florida State, is the one trying to keep the documents secret.

posted by bperk at 12:12 PM on October 16

And they wonder why he is being "asked" to step down? I find this very disturbing. And, it isn't something that is just started. I have students (yes I teach) fill out mock applications. About 6 years ago when the All-State football player put down an answer on a questionnaire for why he would wants to work here... (a fairly standard question in today's workforce). His written response was, "I wood love this werk"... It only goes to show that this problem begins at a very early age. Student-athletes are not held accountable and for those that end up blowing out knees or loosing their careers to an injury, what will they do then. Most won't be qualified to work for the sanitation dept.... yeah, the garbage men. I hate to say it but they aren't doing any favors for these kids in the long run.

As for Bowden.... take his wins and maybe he will stop chasing Joe Pa and give it up.

posted by Mickster at 12:16 PM on October 16

"We are a better institution than this," he said. "This is not something that we are proud of, and it is not necessarily our finest hour."

Well if that's how the university president speaks no wonder the school is in this kind of trouble. Weasel words if I ever heard'em!

On the same vein, this whole thing stinks to me as I do not believe that some peons in a support office were so blatantly and widely violating NCAA regs without pressure coming down from above. They may try and put the blame on Monk et al but its just more spin.

posted by billsaysthis at 12:21 PM on October 16

FSU should never have a special tutor for athletes. It is a recipe for disaster. They should help fund regular tutoring and help fund the office for students with disabilities. and athletes should just use those services.

bperk, I agree. It would be one more way of reinforcing the student-athlete identity in that order.

posted by Spitztengle at 12:24 PM on October 16

Most won't be qualified to work for the sanitation dept.... yeah, the garbage men.

Actually, I believe the only thing one would need in order to pursue a career in waste management is a high school diploma (and since these are college kids we're talking about, that means that they already have a HS diploma) or a relative that just so happens to 'work' in waste management, like Uncle Vito for example.

fuggedaboutit

posted by BornIcon at 12:29 PM on October 16

His written response was, "I wood love this werk"... It only goes to show that this problem begins at a very early age.

I don't think this is a student-athlete problem. Kids aren't athletes in grades 1-7 when they should be learning to read and write.

posted by bperk at 12:45 PM on October 16

I have a son in grade 4, sadly he rejected hockey at a young age for karate which means no trips to the Frozen Four for me. We live in an older working class neighborhood. The school is older but I really believe the education he gets is inferior to both the education I got and what kids in wealthier areas get. While Mark has athletic talent, is it fair to him to hold him out of NCAA (or in my case, CIS) sports because of an inferior academic system.

Now with us, it's hypothetical as we spend a lot of time working with him and pushing him and we are in constant contact with his teacher on ways to challenge him but I can see some of his friends falling through the cracks being failed by parents and the school.

I think part of what the tutors do is even the playing field a bit in helping students overcome a failed system.

Now what FSU did was cheating and I reject the statement that "FSU is a better institution than that" as if they were, it would not have happened.

NCAA sports are in a weird spot as they are both developmental leagues for the NFL (and CFL), NBA, pro golf and in some cases, MLB and the NHL, the difference is that for the NHL, golf, and the MLB, there are other paths to the bigs while for kids with a bad education, there are not.

posted by jc at 02:24 PM on October 16

Now what FSU did was cheating and I reject the statement that "FSU is a better institution than that" as if they were, it would not have happened.

There are nearly 40,000 students at FSU. They have 17 different colleges. This scandal involved one course and a couple of tutors at a special athletic tutoring sessions. It is terrible that this happened, and FSU obviously needs to change their online course process and provide better supervision of tutors. But, it is just ignorant to cheapen the whole institution because of this.

posted by bperk at 03:41 PM on October 16

Somehow the idea of a tutor reading test questions to a learning disabled college student rings a bit hollow to me. My wife has severe dyslexia, but that did not prevent her from earning her degree in Early Childhood Education. She is now employed as a Special Needs educator (mostly with autistic children) in a combined first grade (the special needs kids) and kindergarten ("typical" children) that attempts to use the typical kids as role models for the autistic kids. I am not insensitive to special needs of students at all levels, but were the student in question not an athlete, I doubt he or she would have gained admission to FSU without enough preparation to make him or her able to study and test independently. Some colleges will help such students by offering special courses for them.

I agree with jc about the overall quality of education today. Unfortunately, in an attempt to make things better, the No Child Left Behind law made it essential for schools to "teach the test" rather than educate the children. Further, the way improvement is scored is on a percentage basis. That is, the percent improvement of the standardized score, and not the score itself, is the basis for whether or not your school meets guidelines. What this leads to is the better schools being penalized because they started high, and thus cannot demonstrate a high percentage improvement. The poorer schools, starting low in the scoring, make a large percentage improvement, but are still not up to the level of the better school. Yet the lower school has met its goal, while the better school is called "in need of improvement". Where does that begin to make sense? Even worse, there is no national standard test; it is strictly on the state level. Thus, the schools in one state may be looked upon as making improvement even though that state may lag behind others in the quality of its education.

I could go on and on about the problems with education in the US, but we don't have 300 or so pages. If you have a kid in school, ask his or her teacher someday about how much time is taken up with administrative paperwork, not just test grading and such, but various forms and reports. You'll be surprised.

posted by Howard_T at 06:47 PM on October 16

bperk, sorry but 500 students over 10 sports over several years is no drop in the bucket and IMO absolutely does cheapen the whole institution. It says that the adults who are supposed to supervise decided that athletic success was more important than giving the (huge) student body examples of integrity and honor.

And for my money they are throwing the "couple of tutors" under the bus in an attempt to take the heat off themselves, where it rightly belongs.

posted by billsaysthis at 07:37 PM on October 16

bperk, sorry but 500 students over 10 sports over several years is no drop in the bucket and IMO absolutely does cheapen the whole institution.

Yeah, I don't see it. It was one course over two years and the tutors were athletic department tutors. How does this lessen all that is done by the other 39,500 students? I think it is a complete overreaction. Florida State is not the first, nor will it be the last, to have problems like this. The reason why it is a big deal and not dealt with at an institutional level is because of the NCAA. But, I am an alum who got everything I could out of my free educational opportunity. FSU is the same as every other institution. You get out of it what you put into it.

I am not insensitive to special needs of students at all levels, but were the student in question not an athlete, I doubt he or she would have gained admission to FSU without enough preparation to make him or her able to study and test independently.

I just know this is not true based on my experience at FSU. I helped students all the time that could never had been there without assistance. One of the students had had a stroke and couldn't read anything more than a couple paragraphs at a time. I read his chapters to him all the time. I read test questions to him. I read whatever he needed. Apparently, that is not considered an unreasonable accommodation, and it was done as needed. Some students needed help reading. Some students needed extra time to read it on their own. Either way, they were accommodated. The SAT provides accommodations. High schools provide accommodations. Everyone does what they can to help students with disabilities succeed.

posted by bperk at 09:38 PM on October 16

bperk: Are you saying that having a medical condition and needing some to read to you is the same as an athlete not being able to read and deserving of the same assistance?

Also, I don't think this will place a pall of any kind of the average graduate or the generally perceived value of the degrees earned at your alma mater. Frankly except for when people look at Bowden's 14 lost wins I doubt people will even remember it past 2010.

posted by billsaysthis at 09:19 PM on October 17

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