A good proposal. It complements one of my own. A principal source of the hypocrisy and corruption in big college football and basketball is the pretense that the athletes are "student-athletes," that each jock will graduate with a degree. Over the last couple of decades the NCAA has raised entrance and eligibility requirements in support of this delusion. And that has yielded the phony courses and phony grading and phony degrees we see so frequently now.
I say lower the requirements. Instead of forcing them to be on track to get a degree in four years, let them take six or eight years, or not even get a degree at all. (Whether the university wants to fund them beyond four years would be up to the university.) Instead of passing four courses a term, tell them they only have to pass two, or maybe one. Tell the athletes "We certainly hope you take advantage of your scholarships to graduate. But if graduating is not what you're interested in, if it's too time-consuming and difficult, if you're not adequately prepared for college coursework, we want give you an opportunity to spend a few years in college getting what you can from it. Learn to read and write a little better. Read a couple of good books. Talk to smart, academically motivated people. Learn to use the library. Make friends."
Gregg Easterbook proposes something in a similar vein:
For FBS players, the year-to-year scholarship -- which pressures them to favor football over the library, to ensure the scholarship is renewed -- should be replaced with a six-year scholarship. That way once a player's athletic eligibility has expired, typically after 4.5 years, and once the NFL does not call -- 97 percent of FBS players never take an NFL snap -- there will be paid-up semesters remaining for him to be a full-time student, repair credits and earn that diploma. Not all will need the extra semesters. But six-year full scholarships would change big-college football from a cynical exercise in using up impressionable young men and throwing them away, into a fair deal: The university gets great football, the players get educations.
Any of these proposals would, in my view, be far better than either the present system or the proposal to pay them salaries.