"Student-Athlete" Interface

This post was originally bumped from the diaries last January 18, not long after Demetrice Morley was dismissed from the team for academic reasons. Aerobab linked to it in response to new RTT member Power T's (welcome!) post about another round of players being academically ineligible for the Outback Bowl, but I thought it deserved some more time in the spotlight.

Add mine and Ghost of Neyland's to the growing cacophony of disgruntled voices, by the way.

-- Joel

CFAJ recently posted his thoughts at the fanhouse on the dismissal of Demetrice Morley from the University of Tennessee. His entry brought out the following comment from Hilary:

"another example of vols coaches asleep. Leading teams watch over the grades of their players and make them do what it takes...Our coaches fail in so many way,,Bret Smith and now Morley. Who is next....."

I'm 180 degrees out of phase with Hilary's thoughts.  IMO, the coaching staff should hold ZERO accountability for the academic short comings of their "student-athletes" (I despise that phrase, by the way.) on the following basic premises:

1) The "student-athletes" are grown adults and are to be held accountable for their own actions.  Enough said, really.

2) The coaching staff is hired to coach an elective sport (not required participation). They're not hired to babysit or be the "Big Brother" tasked with academic oversight. Coach Fulmer is a $2M/ year coach who is paid to win championships; not to make sure that his players maintain a 2.0 GPA.  Academic success is an assumption to winning said championships, which is an excellent segue to...

3) Academic expectations are made very clear at the onset of joining the team.  The individuals are keenly aware that if they slack-off on academics then they hurt the team, not just themselves.  (Ask Brett Smith about this one if you need validation.)  Nobody, and I mean NOBODY wants to be "that guy" who may cost his team a victory.
-- Side note: I would think that the other players on the team would be the ones to oversee that grades are kept up.  The buddy system is used in the weight room to encourage and oversee that every bit of strength and effort is given to pump out one last rep on the bench press.  That same energy/motivation should be and can easily be translated into their schoolwork.  

4) There is virtually an unlimited amount of "educational aids" available to underachieving "student-athletes."  From group study sessions to 1 on 1 tutoring available 24/7, there is absolutely no reason to fail a single class, let alone fail out of a university centered around the athletics program.

When I attended UT as a "student-scholar," I didn't have a coach to make sure that I went to class and got C's or better in my classes.  All I had was my personal desire to excel.  Well, that and the knowledge that financing would be pulled by the parental units if I should fail!  But like I said, success and achievement is an expectation that was made by my father at the onset of my college career.  I did not need constant reminding that he and my mother would stop paying for college if I should fail.

Case in point is that DeMo brought this upon himself.  He may blame Coach Fulmer, he may blame the assistant coaches, he may blame his professors, or hell...he may even blame me!  But the fact remains that he, and only he is responsible for himself.  I have not come across any derogatory statements from DeMo since the news broke, so I can only hope that he has made such a realization.

What are your thoughts?  Should coaches be held accountable for the academic successes/failures of their athletes?
Self-admission note of worth: over the course of writing this entry, I came across a few holes in my argument. Bonus points to you if you can call me on them!

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