April 13, 2011

A Call to Action for Student-Athletes

Rodney Smith, president of Southern Virginia University, told conference attendees that universities with athletic programs are not taking care of the academic and social welfare of their student-athletes. He suggested a number of solutions in his call to action at the Losing to Win conference.

1. It is time for disclosure. When recruiting, coaches must inform families about the school’s graduation rates and injury rates for athletes so parents, guardians and students can make informed decisions. This information also must appear on any letter of intent.

2. To play in a post-season or championship game, a program must meet a 50 percent graduation rate.

3. Graduation rates should determine which schools play, and where they are seeded in playoffs and championship games.

4. Practices with injuries must be documented.

5. It is time to penalize violations of academic integrity. Two major infractions should result in the “death penalty” for programs and the people who run them.

6. Revenues must be used to help student athletes – for additional scholarships to improve graduation rates and to put student-athletes on firm footing for careers after graduation; and to buy insurance, including workers compensation insurance for injured student athletes.

7. Concluded Smith: “It is time for a national championship. It is time for Congress to hold hearings. It is time to act. We can say there will be a great loss in revenue. It will get us out of this arms race in athletics. Will the major conferences cry? Of course, as anyone would when their revenue would be threatened.” -- Alicia Roberts

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