by stormbear, Thu Mar 15, 2007 at 05:18:24 AM EDT
by thesportsbiz, Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 01:01:41 PM EST
As march Madness begins to sweep the country and bracket are being copied across the land in preparation for the largest amount of illegal betting since the Super Bowl, some folks would like to remind you that the games are being played by students. Yes, the players are enrolled in institutions of higher education and are supposed to be attending class and studying when not perfecting the art of the zone trap. To that end, over at Inside Higher Ed, they developed a bracket of the teams in this year's tournament based on their six year graduation rate. Their Final Four does not exactly correspond to what is likely to play out on the court.
In addition to that exercise in academic reality, the Democratic think tank, Center for American Progress, headed by former Bill Clinton aide John Podesta, has begun a campaign called Graduation Madness aimed at enlisting Nike, Reebok and Adidas into the battle for academic standards. They want to the three shoe companies to provide financial incentives to their schools for academic achievements and to not endorse schools that fail to meet academic standards. The bracket on the Graduation Madness site notes that 30 of the 65 schools in the tournament fail to meet the 925 minimum cut line APR standard set by the NCAA as an academic minimum.
While I applaud both efforts at drawing attention to academic issues, I am less hopeful that there will be lasting benefits. Every year at this time, we see the same thing occurring and the fact that it happens every year is proof that it has minimal effect. Hopefully, the effort by Think Progress may have some effect because it targets one of the schools' most significant sources of income. However, I can't say that I'm optimistic.