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SCANDAL: Florida State University football players held to the same low standards as George Mason University statistics faculty

Paul Alper points us to this news report:

As the Florida State University football team was marching to a national title in the fall of 2013, the school was investigating allegations of academic favoritism involving a half-dozen of its leading players . . . The inquiry, previously unreported, stemmed from a complaint by a teaching assistant who said she felt pressured to give special breaks to athletes in online hospitality courses on coffee, tea and wine, where some handed in plagiarized work and disregarded assignments and quizzes. . . .

Hey, wait a minute . . . “online hospitality courses on coffee, tea and wine”? Huh? What is this, the Cornell University business school?

Check this out:

Copying from Wikipedia? This’ll get you tenure in the statistics department at a major university in Northern Virginia.

It’s a sad day when professional football players student-athletes are held to the same low standards as tenured professors of statistics. Really, I’d hope the football players could do better. After all, they’ll have to get jobs in the real world soon, they can’t just coast on their reputations.

The whole thing is so sad: they play football, they make millions of dollars in revenue for their institutions, they don’t get paid, they get major injuries, and they don’t even get an education out of it.

P.S. Yeah, yeah, Columbia has Dr. Oz. I never said we were perfect.

21 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    “As the Florida State University football team was marching to a national title in the fall of 2013, the school was investigating allegations of academic favoritism involving a half-dozen of its leading players . . . The inquiry, previously unreported, stemmed from a complaint by a teaching assistant who said she felt pressured to give special breaks to athletes in online hospitality courses on coffee, tea and wine, where some handed in plagiarized work and disregarded assignments and quizzes”

    The documentary “Ivory Tower” might be interesting/relevant with regard to the above quote: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3263520/

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/movies/ivory-tower-movie-review/2014/06/18/f13b0a20-f31b-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_story.html?utm_term=.03091b32debc

    “One of the most interesting discoveries is that it’s not just students who are in debt. In the spirit of competitiveness, colleges have had to up the ante. If one school has a rock-climbing wall, then the others need one, too. The same goes for bigger stadiums, better pools and cushier housing.”

    http://www.skilledup.com/articles/ivory-tower-movie-review-higher-education-failing

    “The documentary about higher education, Ivory Tower, drives a central point with relentless force: the world of higher education has mutated, swelled, and begun to crumble under its own weight. Colleges have become more like businesses and brands. They compete viciously against each other and against themselves, constantly fighting to be fancier than they were before and better than everyone else. This means constructing more luxury facilities, expanding administrations at a rate of 28% since 20001, and trying to attract more partiers.”

  2. D Kane says:

    > they don’t get paid, they get major injuries

    Tenured professors (like you!) at football playing schools are in a perfect position to fight this injustice.(If you are short on cash, a GoFundMe could be used. I will personally cover the entire cost.)

    You (tenured professor at Columbia) go to the next Columbia football game and hand a $100 bill to each player. (We can work out the exact logistics later.) As you do so, you explain that you think it is unjust that Columbia does not pay them even though they generate so much revenue for the university. You think that this is morally outrageous. Giving them each $100 is your small act of civil disobedience.

    This is great because a) It would get a lot of press coverage, first from the Columbia student paper and then more broadly; b) It is (?) against NCAA rules; c) It is unclear what the NCAA could do about it; d) You, with tenure, are safe (?) from reprisals.

    • Andrew says:

      D:

      There are so many possible acts of civil disobedience that I could do that would get headlines, but I think I can make more useful contributions doing the teaching, research, and service that I currently do.

      I don’t think football players at Columbia earn any money for the university. I did have a football player in my class who had permanent spinal injury, though, and it made me sad. I love sports but the current system seems to have problems.

  3. D Kane says:

    Understood and no worries.

    > I don’t think football players at Columbia earn any money for the university.

    Presumably the revenue for ticket sales is not thrown in the garbage . . .

    • Andrew says:

      D,

      I doubt the football team earns any money for Columbia, net. They sell some tickets but then the university has to pay for coaches, recruiting, use of the stadium and the practice fields, etc. But, sure, maybe they make a bit of money for the university, I can’t really say.

      • Salomon says:

        Who are they making money for then?

      • Dale Lehman says:

        According to the Title IX data (readily available from https://ope.ed.gov/athletics/#/ the revenues and total costs for the Columbia football team were precisely equal for every year from 2006 through 2015. From 2003 through 2005, for some reason, expenses were much higher than revenue (Title IX effects?). Of course the precise equality between revenues and costs does make me wonder….

        • Keith O'Rourke says:

          The two highest salaries at Duke University, I was told when I was there, were the head coaches of the men’s and women’s basketball team. I have no idea how to value the publicity generated for the University…

      • Jacob says:

        For the most part, only a handful of football programs make money and the rest cost the school money. IIRC, when UAB was shutting down its football program (later reneged), one of the cited reasons was that >$500 of each student’s tuition each year was going to the football program. The Ivies may do okay by subsisting on donations from alumni, but I don’t see any way they’d get enough revenue from ticket sales and the like unless they keep their expenses well below most D1 programs.

        • Dale Lehman says:

          I, too, had this impression. But it is not borne out in the data. In fact, in Division III, having football appears to benefit the other sports. The uncanny equality of costs and revenues for Division 1 football may point to something strange about how this data is collected or reported. But we should believe in using the data and analyzing it, rather than our kneejerk reactions.

  4. Paul Alper says:

    The woman, Christina Suggs, had scruples and of course, was fired:

    “[Suggs]was informed that her job as a teaching assistant would not be renewed because she did not have enough business school credits.”

    The article ends with “The medical examiner determined that she had died accidentally from a toxic combination of prescription medicines for pain, anxiety and depression.”
    The student athletes mentioned in the article seem to be doing well.

    • Anoneuoid says:

      “a toxic combination of prescription medicines for pain, anxiety and depression.”

      Is there any other type?

      • Kyle MacDonald says:

        Low enough dosage will make pretty much any combination of randomly chosen substances nontoxic, with a few notable exceptions (e.g. lead, mercury, arsenic, anything that’s serious about getting rid of some neutrons), none of which you’re likely to find in a pharmacy.

        • Kyle MacDonald says:

          This was in poor taste, given the context.

          • Martha (Smith) says:

            Is this referring to your comment or to Anoneuoid’s?

            • Kyle MacDonald says:

              Mine. I don’t think Anoneuoid’s was *especially* tasteful, but my reply was totally inappropriate.

              • Anoneuoid says:

                “Dose makes the poison” aside, if you are taking a “combination of prescription medicines for pain, anxiety and depression”, then your life is in danger.

                It is no joke. From what I have seen it is much safer to be an alcoholic than on those pills, eg you will get delerium tremens-like symptoms after only a week or two of Xanax. I’ve also seen people come to think it is normal to lose the ability to feel boredom, so they become obese on a couch and skip work multiple days a week. Meanwhile they now believe they were “sick” before, when they saved up a bunch of money and got exercise for hours each day… it is toxic stuff that maybe could be leveraged to some benefit in some cases in theory.

              • Martha (Smith) says:

                Kyle,

                Thanks for the clarification.

                My impression (based partly on experiences of friends and relatives) is that physicians all too often prescribe medications for pain, anxiety, depression, or other matters, that can have serious negative side effects, particularly in combination — which very easily occurs when one physician prescribes for one thing and another for another thing.

  5. John Mashey says:

    While this seems more coincidnece than causation, it is a curious coincidence:

    1) The Koch brothers are major funders for George Mason University, have 2 thinktanks there (Mercatus, and Institute for Humane Studies, which ChHarles Chairs), give money to other departments.

    2) And their funding of Florida State U has been in the news, Spreading the Free-Market Gospel-What’s new and interesting about the Koch brothers’ approach to funding academics.

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