FanDuel - WFBC

November 26, 2005

'The Easiest, Fastest Way to Become a High School Graduate': The New York Times has found college football players at 11 Division I schools who graduated high school at University High School in Florida, a correspondence school run by a convicted diploma-mill fraudster that has open-book tests, no known accredited teachers and promises a degree in 4-6 weeks. The schools: Auburn, Central Florida, Colorado State, Florida, Florida State, Florida International, Rutgers, South Carolina State, South Florida, Tennessee and Temple.

posted by rcade to football at 08:29 AM - 31 comments

Great details. But why does this not surprise me?

posted by roberts at 08:39 AM on November 26

Top-tier D-1 schools look to get kids into their school any way they can. How it's done isn't even a consideration. If the NCAA gives any specific kid's transcript their blessing, that's the end of it. For athletes that go to these universities and do something constructive (and get their degree), I say, Way to go! As for a vast number of athletes I watch in college football, Auburn, Florida State, etc. are nothing more than football's version of a Triple A farm system. Some make the jump to the next level, some don't. The last thing I think about when watching them is "student."

posted by dyams at 08:49 AM on November 26

Most don't make the jump. Take away these cheats, and student athletes would have to work harder in high school to get their grades up. All this school does is push the problem to college, where they're even more unprepared to pass a class.

posted by rcade at 08:57 AM on November 26

For the most part, athletics AND academics are reserved for Division 2 and 3. Division 1 is, and always will primarily be about winning and making money.

posted by dyams at 09:04 AM on November 26

Some of these college players are under the same scruteney as pro athletes, yet we wonder why academics end up taking a back seat to these kids. If such emphasis was not placed on their performance in these nationally televised events perhabs we could breed an enviorment where their purpose for going to school is to learn and their football, basketball, baseball etc. etc. is treated as an extraciurruclar activity. I gratuated high school in '99 (guess that makes me younger than a lot of you all) and I can tell you the correspendence course in the article is no different than the revolving door mentality of most public schools these days. It's almost like prison, do your time and get the hell out.

posted by HATER 187 at 09:45 AM on November 26

I graduated in 1965, I'm older than most. Guess what the class of 65 had less school and more knowledge than the class of 04 even with all the new technilogical advances. I would hate to think what my teachers would have required of me if I would have had as much quick access to the world as todays students have. We need teachers who are dedicated to teaching and parents who are dedicated to making their children learn and not blaming it on something or somebody other than themselves and their children. Someday the body refuses to play football, basketball, baseball, and track, but the mind keeps on going if it is educated properly. The Coach

posted by coach at 10:09 AM on November 26

On this subject. Did you guys hear Michel Vicks interview after the game on thanksgiving? He musta been hanging out in LA. I think he said "you know what I'm saying 100 times" to get outa sxhool all you need to be is black and a great athlete

posted by BIGTEJANO at 11:37 AM on November 26

Or incredibly poor. That seems to get people out of school pretty quick. How about not having anyone at home to encourage you or read to you? And how about a peer group in the same boat, where doing well in school becomes a negative? That'll help get you out of school quickly. Of course, in 1965 everyone had an equal opportunity. And all the people who comprised "everyone" kept class sizes nice and small.

posted by yerfatma at 01:25 PM on November 26

He musta been hanging out in LA. I think he said "you know what I'm saying 100 times" So if someone says "you know what I'm saying" that makes them stupid? How, exactly? You know what I'm saying?

posted by fakeymcalias at 02:24 PM on November 26

It doesn't surprise me that these types of places exist. Traditional education isn't too much further behind! As an educator for 22 years I've witnessed the quality of our "product" decline, unbelievably rapidly in the past decade. It's not because teachers aren't qualified nor because they don't care. I'm working harder now, with less time, less compensation, less administrative and community support than ever. And, despite the fact that I spend more time at school than the "mandated" 8-hour day and continue my "job" well into my evening hours, my students are not getting smarter! They are getting lazier--yes! They are feeling more entitled--of course! We've allowed "activist" legislators, parents, coaches, businesses to make American education (the most expensive public education around) into an international joke! No child left behind? They are all being left behind when we allow these places to exist and when we trivialize the importance of a "real" education for all our kids--athletes included! We spend too much time teaching the test, worrying about whether our schools are "performing" and our teachers "highly educated" and too little time creating real solutions.

posted by brownie at 02:35 PM on November 26

brownie, you're doing a heckuva job.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 02:56 PM on November 26

Unlike baseball and hockey, which have viable minor league systems, the NFL doesn't want to spring for the expense of such a system. The NFL uses college as their minor league. Because of that, there is a lot of cheating to get into the football minor league (ie: college). Personally, I don't give a hoot whether or not a football player went to college. My doctor, my lawyer, my teacher - yea, I'd like to know they had a college degree. But my athlete. Give me a break.

posted by drevl at 03:15 PM on November 26

I may not agree with BIGTEJANO's comments 100%, but I did see the Vick interview after the Lions - Falcons game Thanksgiving Day, and he didn't sound like a man well acquainted with the English language at all, even on an elementary level.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 03:37 PM on November 26

I'm not sure which side i'm on. Sure an education is vital and is more reliable than a sports career, but for a few athletes, sports is their only way up...education can't really help them because they're just too...for lack of a better word, dumb. Like that Temple guy: he studied 3 hrs a day, professors and tutor help and everything, and still fails his tests. Then again, most probably have the brain capacity, but don't try. And they are athletes; you don't require scientists to pass an athletic test (bad analogy, but my point is...they're here to play a sport). Maybe there should be some compromise..if you can't meet the bar standard, you still can play whatever sport you're playing, but you receive less benefits maybe like..not starting, certain amount of minutes, fines, etc.

posted by sangu at 04:52 PM on November 26

For the most part, athletics AND academics are reserved for Division 2 and 3. Division 1 is, and always will primarily be about winning and making money. I don't necessarily agree. Some schools (Duke, Stanford, etc.) place a high priority on education and are still competitive athletically. I don't think all D-1 schools should be persecuted because some don't play on a level playing field.

posted by muggssy at 06:30 PM on November 26

Rutgers, wow there's a top level football factory--it's where I got my masters degree, so if anything my bias is the other way but... Sure an education is vital and is more reliable than a sports career, but for a few athletes, sports is their only way up...education can't really help them because they're just too...for lack of a better word, dumb. This unfortunately common argument is absurd. If anything, the education is more important to them than others because, should he be good enough to make the NFL cut, the pressures and opportunities will be even more extreme. How many articles have you read about the star athlete bilked by unscrupulous manager, agent or hanger-on? Conversely, how many athletes have added years to their career by being able to substitute and apply experience (i.e., knowledge) for the lost step?

posted by billsaysthis at 06:41 PM on November 26

Just another thing to go with boosters and wild parties thrown to get recruits. How attractive would it be to go to some non-legit school for a few weeks then be on the inside track to stardom? I'd do it in a minute (given that im a sophmore...), playing sports sure beats studying hours for tests...

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 08:44 PM on November 26

Let me say to start off with, that I am shocked, SHOCKED, that athletes would use falsification and academic shenanigans to get a chance to play D-1 school. Second, I have a problem with this statement is the unspoken corollary that if these kids went to a public school, they would have an excellent education (or at least would be kept from getting to football). I'm not sure about that, especially as Florida public schools are some of the worst in the nation, and everyone has heard about academically ineligible kids who get through at public high schools by taking the joke courses taught by the coaches, or other knuckleheads, and also about private schools that make their own rules on how to play. As a kid who graduated in 2002, I agree a lot with what HATER says. High schools today (even public and big private schools) are all just degree factories that shovel kids out. All they care about is how they do at qualification tests and how many big name schools their kids go to-not how those kids do there, just that they got there.

posted by Bonkers at 09:02 PM on November 26

I think he said "you know what I'm saying 100 times" to get outa sxhool all you need to be is black and a great athlete Am I the only one that laughed heartily when reading this statement? Commenting on someone's English skills while butchering the language themselves has got to be sweet and juicy irony.

posted by grum@work at 09:51 PM on November 26

Something about using the words "sweet" and "juicy" during Thanksgiving weekend just seems right. Thanks grum, and happy holidays. I'm goin' for leftovers.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 10:36 PM on November 26

High schools today (even public and big private schools) are all just degree factories that shovel kids out. And they don't teach proper rhetoric either, huh? I'd say "all" is a dangerous word to use, especially when you are including "big private schools". I doubt parents dropping $20,000 - $30,000 a year on their kid's high school education are happy with just getting a piece of paper.

posted by yerfatma at 10:09 AM on November 27

It's reasonably simple to see that the teaching of english has long ago become a secondary consideration in our schools of today. Brownie makes a plethora of good and factual comments. I was once a teacher as well, and left the career when I was told that I had to be less critical of the student's performance, which I refused to do. Basic education has been abandoned by the schools, and their huge, payola receiving teacher's union is the reason for this. But that does not solve the problem. Parents have to refuse to allow their children to advance until they see the progress, and most parents have not been to a teacher's conference or looked at their children's curriculum in the balance of their school lives. Once upon a time, students were not allowed to use calculators for mathematics, only paper and pencil. When those days return, the education system will have returned as well. And Grum, no, you are not the only one.

posted by mrhockey at 10:42 AM on November 27

But that does not solve the problem. Parents have to refuse to allow their children to advance until they see the progress, and most parents have not been to a teacher's conference or looked at their children's curriculum in the balance of their school lives. Once upon a time, students were not allowed to use calculators for mathematics, only paper and pencil. When those days return, the education system will have returned as well. Yeah. Earlier in this thread, sangu commented on the pointlessness of a college student trying for academic success when he can't pass a course even with ample help and three hours a day of studying. Of course there could be something else going on here, but my guess is that it's a matter of trying to make up for too much lost time. I tutor kids for the SAT, and I see a fair amount of this: high school seniors who have been putting in the bare minimum of effort, and who now lack the ability to do college-level work because they never mastered the basics. The calculator thing is a good example: speak against calculators and people will call you a luddite, but not using a calculator forces you to develop a fluency in basic computation, and also forces you to make good decisions in how you structure your problem-solving. Kids who rely a lot on the calculator frequently can't even get started with a more advanced problem, or they go very swiftly down the wrong path and end up nowhere. Same goes with writing or anything else: a combination of technique plus practice, practice, long and boring practice, is what results in skill. Everyone understands this principle when it comes to athletic skills; why is it so hard to understand that with academics, it works the same way? Bottom line: no amount of help at the college level can make up for not having learned fundamental math, reading comprehension, writing skills and so on. You need to already have those things in order to do college-level work -- and it's not realistic to expect teenagers to understand that or to do the hard and boring work of drilling those skills in, all by themselves. Parents, teachers, coaches and administrators all have to cooperate in holding the kids' feet to the fire, and resolutely ignore the bitching and moaning. Within four years, they'll be thanking you.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:11 PM on November 27

Not being a parent or recent high school student, I'm not clear on whether this applies to private schools but I think the biggest factor in the change pointed to here by lbb and mrhockey is what in science and business is known as 'you get what you measure.' No Child Left Behind and other legislation require testing in very explicit terms and the schools are responding to it. Not to get partisan but NCLB is frequently claimed as a key legislative accomplishment of the Bush Administration.

posted by billsaysthis at 05:23 PM on November 27

Is it fair to extrapolate the death of the American Education system from the academic performance of top-tier athletes? My mother is a public school teacher and has been all her life. I have no illusions about what parents' sense of entitlement and the threat of lawsuits has done, but was Ducky Medwick really that much brighter than today's athlete?

posted by yerfatma at 05:23 PM on November 27

I work in education, and what bothers me the most is people who believe a student (ANY student, not just athletes) will merely sit in school and knowledge will soak into them like a sponge. For most students, excelling academically takes a lot of extra time and work outside of school. My daughters attend a good school system, but I still have to work with them, read with them, critique their homework, and be actively involved. Many of the athletes in question come from environments (homes) where school work and homework is not stressed. It's usually a way of life that has been in place for quite some time, and there are many reasons for it. But athletes aren't the only students who come from that type of home. It takes schools and home together to help any student learn. This happens over the lifetime of a young person, and if it hasn't happened by the time an athlete is a junior or senior in high school, it's not going to happen.

posted by dyams at 06:12 PM on November 27

Not being a parent or recent high school student, I'm not clear on whether this applies to private schools but I think the biggest factor in the change pointed to here by lbb and mrhockey is what in science and business is known as 'you get what you measure.' No Child Left Behind and other legislation require testing in very explicit terms and the schools are responding to it. Not to get partisan but NCLB is frequently claimed as a key legislative accomplishment of the Bush Administration. "You get what you measure" is not the way I heard it; when I did the TQM thang, it was, "You can't manage what you can't measure." You certainly do not get something simply as a result of measuring it, and that's the error in the "reasoning" (such as it is) of No Child Left Behind. You can administer a test that provides you with a quantitative measure of academic achievement, but even if we grant without dispute that the test is a completely valid measure, you won't get better numbers simply by giving kids the test. Nor will you get them by a mandate from above and banging your chest and bellowing about accountability.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:11 PM on November 27

Word. As someone involved in monitoring and evaluation on a daily basis, we must never let the 'measurable' outweigh the 'immeasurable'. Quantitative data will help you only up to a certain point. If education really is a transformative experience, we need more than just a few test results.

posted by owlhouse at 07:30 PM on November 27

Learning is a process on its own. Deciding that one is going to measure that learning by one simple tool is just wrong. Everyone doesn't start at the same place and everyone will not finish at the same place. But, the improvement over time is the important thing. Also, schools spend much of their day on keeping kids in line and in order, that most of it is not spent learning. I think the idea that parents & kids should spend more time at home with homework is just terrible. They are in school for 7+ hours a day & then send elementary school kids home with more than an hour of homework. That is crazy. When are they supposed to be playing? There are a million ways that you can teach kids the basics outside of school without any homework whatsoever. Reading to them for fun is one great way. I have a two-year old & having been reading a lot about education and school & am more lost than ever. Many of our schools seem to be more a part of the problem than the solution.

posted by bperk at 11:03 AM on November 28

bperk, you're absolutely right. I've read all these comments, and finally found one that makes sense. Kids should learn to learn during the 7 hour school day, and learn to play and socialize when school is out. You certainly do not get something simply as a result of measuring it, and that's the error in the "reasoning" (such as it is) of No Child Left Behind. lbb, that's close to correct. Let me change this thought slightly. You do not get something simply by measuring it. However, you absolutely will not get something if you do not measure it. How the heck is your average teacher going to know what each individual child needs if he or she has no measuring stick? Input is one mighty good tool for a teacher.

posted by drevl at 01:27 PM on November 28

LBB, drevl, yes, you cannot know some result without mesaurement. However, in corporate-world (and I believe increasingly in EduLand), people will manage towards whatever is measured. Ignoring, for the most part, what isn't. Which was the inference I was trying to make.

posted by billsaysthis at 03:25 PM on November 28

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