Grade-changing in football, too

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The recent allegations about grade-changing and fraudulent test-taking in the case of former Simeon and current Chicago Bulls basketball star Derrick Rose aren't surprising in this age of high-pressure recruiting. And they certainly aren't reserved for basketball. Football has known its share of academic scandals.

If you read Michael Lewis' best-selling book, "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game," the story of former Mississippi offensive lineman Michael Oher, who was the 23rd pick in the 2009 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens, you learned that somebody is always trying to figure out a way to skirt around the rules.

I have been evaluating high school football players for 30 years, long enough to know that these illegal and unethical and immoral practices have been going on long before Oher--and they'll be going on long after his career is over.

I am on the road and interviewing 1,500 kids in the course of every year and they tell me about their core grade-point averages and courses and people tell me there is no way a kid can make it into college out of high school. I know who they are. The NCAA's enforcement division needs to go after the cheaters but they don't.

In fact, the NCAA seems not to be aware of a lot of the corruption, except when someone else uncovers a violation. Some of this stuff could be rumors but normally where there is smoke there is fire, even fact.

I hear it all the time with test scores, that kids cheat with the ACT and SAT. The ones who get caught are only a small fraction of the cheaters. Oher didn't cheat. He found another way. His foster father discovered an obscure BYU night course for his stepson to take, which opened the door for him to be enrolled at Ole Miss.

Over the years, I've seen 1.6 and 1.7 grade-point averages jump to 2.5 in two months. They do it in Chicago, too. Kids go to night school or summer school to get their grades changed. In football, coaches tell me the mistake that many kids make is they take the test the first time without help. If they score 12 or 13, then if someone takes it for them the second time and scores 22 or 23, there will be rumblings. A red flag automatically is waved.

When was the last time you saw a bad student not get into college? Kids frequently tell me they have a 2.0 grade-point average but later I learn it actually was 1.5. But they still get into college. I wonder how they did it. And I wonder why the NCAA doesn't wonder, too.

It's like steroids. Some people always find a way to take a shortcut, a fast way around the rules. College coaches whose jobs are on the line, who have to recruit good players regardless of what their transcript says, will look the other way. Instead, they will find ways to get a kid into school. There always is pressure to change grades to make a kid eligible. The NCAA doesn't want to deal with scandal.

After all, the NCAA is the organization that refers to the Derrick Roses of this world as "student-athletes."

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Another topical book that interested folks may want to spend some time with is "Meat Market", the story about the Ed Orgeron regime and the wild recruiting methods that were in play at Ole Miss.

It's clear that there are different standards for different institutions and for different kids.

Tom: you've seen this for a lifetime. Do you think there's any possibility of cleaning up the process? My own opinion is that economics, like gravity, always prevails, so the demand for athletic talent and the corresponding economic power will always prevail.

Thanks God the actual decision makers are actually examining the system, ironically, more than individual students who are caught up in these situations. I read a great article that took a look at these exams the institutions of higher ed and the socio economic background of individual students. To say that these talented and gifted kids have to pass their ACT which only measures their parents income, is disgusting. California will no longer require the ACT/SAT for students to get into 4 yr schools, im a curious as to how that will affect students athletes but its def a step in the right direction and thank God California's (and every other state with a considerable amount of students of color)demographics are showing how these exams are unfair to Minorities and First generation college students of any color. Obviously anyone that may be from a 2 parent household or whose parents are college grads are gonna want to snuff out these kids accused of cheating, luckily the decision makers are not that superficial or shallow


The ACT and SAT are a joke !!!! A 4 hour test cannot tell you if a kid is going to do well in college or not . The only thing that should matter is the grades that they earned over the 4 years in high school .You can never tell the drive of a kid by a test .

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This page contains a single entry by Second Season published on June 2, 2009 12:05 PM.

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