Can College Athletes Read This?

It seems like every few years, there's some new investigation launched into college football's academic integrity. Today, another investigation was launched, this time by ESPN.

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And while it's nothing to new to hear that athletes at BCS schools don't meet the standards of the general students, it's a little alarming to hear that they can't even read. Here, one star recruit meets his academic adviser for the first time:

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"You might as well know right off the bat, I can't read," he told her.

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"Then how are we going to get through these college classes?" she asked.

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"It's easy," he responded. "You get to read to me."

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Indeed, according to testimony from a former "learning specialist" at Florida State, Dr. Brenda Monk, as well as that of former All-World recruit Fred Rouse, it's not uncommon for athletes with severe academic deficiencies to enroll at FSU.

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Rouse--who was dismissed from FSU, and then UTEP, after starting as a freshman and drawing comparisons to Randy Moss--mentioned FSU star Antonio Cromartie as one player who truly could not read, and often slept through classes.

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And he's the perfect case study, really: having competed for two years at FSU, Cromartie took his game to the NFL, where he's now an All-Pro cornerback. Had he been deprived of the college experience-- college coaching and competition, specifically -- Cromartie wouldn't be where he is today. Should we shun players like Cromartie in the name of protecting the illusion of "student-athletes" and academic integrity?

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That's not rhetorical; it's a question that every college program must grapple with. Athletes will never be on par with the general student populations, but that's not to say that a college experience can't change their lives. So, where's the line, the standard that everyone must meet?

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Every school answers that question differently, and it's open to interpretation. But anyone that thinks Florida State's the only program to take a liberal stance on this issue, well... they may be in need of a "learning specialist" themselves.

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