A narrow focus today.
First, the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR) data is out, and it's pretty boring. You can sift through the numbers on NCAA.org if you like, but the only thing that affects Tennessee is this: we're losing four-hundredths of a baseball scholarship for not meeting standards in that sport, otherwise, we're clean. The only I-A football programs being penalized are barely playing I-A ball anyway: FIU, MTSU, UAB, UL-Laf, Arizona, UNLV, Toledo, and W. Mich. It would have been exciting if say, Notre Dame or Florida had lost some schollys, but alas.
There are those who think these APR numbers are trumped up and insignificant. Among them are Birmingham News columnist Ray Melick, who writes:
Another thing: whatever "recent study" that proves athletes are taking "easy" classes and majors reminds me of the Harvard study that shows college students are likely to binge drink, in that neither study needed to be done. In both cases, a lot of money could have been saved by just hanging out on a college campus and seeing what's going on. But in the case of athletes being mainstreamed into "easy" majors, isn't that better than those young men (and women) getting no exposure to higher education at all?
In my years of college, I never found a class where I could do literally nothing and pass (and believe me, I tried). You gotta show up and do something to get credit. And if there are classes where literally nothing is being done for credit, it's an issue for people like SACS and not the NCAA (unless the classes are only being offered to athletes).
Melick also has a problem with what he sees as schools manipulating the APR
For those interested in academic reform, I have to think that the APR is better than nothing, which is what we've had in the past. It's like dirt that has been swept under the rug for years, and now the rug is being removed and the dirt now has to be dealt with. Some will chose to push the dirt into other corners, but in many cases it will be cleaned up. Maybe Melick's right, maybe I'm not being cynical enough about this. But as an alumnus who cares about both the academic and athletic reputations of Tennessee, I say any move towards some sort of academic responsibility is a move in the right direction.