NCAA Closes Correspondence Course Door

↵ It's always been a little strange that the same school that booted Harvey Unga because he either had sex or did something even less surprising a college kid would do (drink, whether it's alcohol or coffee, for one) has been the go-to school for academically ineligible kids who just need to take two to six multiple choice tests about cats to get into schools. ↵

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↵Former Ole Miss offensive tackle, Blind Side subject, and current Baltimore Raven Michael Oher (pictured) is the most famous of these adrift young men brought into college by some good old-fashioned distance learning. A near-feral childhood gave way to the kindness in Sandra Bullock's heart, Oher made up years of schooling in a matter of months, and was shortly on the honor roll at Ole Miss. ↵

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↵That's all a little, well, suspicious in the eyes of the NCAA. And it is no more: ↵

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↵⇥The NCAA has a message for would-be college athletes hoping to use online courses to bolster their high school transcripts: proceed with caution. The organization announced Tuesday that it will stop accepting course credit from two virtual schools based in Utah and Illinois as part of a move to strengthen high school eligibility standards in Division I. ↵⇥

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↵⇥That means no more high school credit from Brigham Young University's independent study program. ↵⇥

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↵The NCAA descended upon BYU and "American School," which sounds like yet another a direct-to-DVD American Pie spinoff, after academic fraud investigations at Missouri, Kansas, Ole Miss (surprise!), Nicholls State, and a Kansas community college turned up the unsurprising common thread. ↵

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↵Orson Swindle at Every Day Should Be Saturday is miffed for reasons I sympathize with partially: ↵

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↵⇥that football players have to major in anything but football is absurd and anachronistic, and forgets the most legitimate critique of the entire system made by Michael Lewis in his book about Oher: that college provides contact with the networks sustaining you professionally for the rest of your life, and young athletes who could compete collegiately are cut off from that contact by institutions that, on the whole, willingly treat them differently in every other sense. ↵⇥

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↵⇥Schools will find another way for young athletes to cheat a system that still claims they are like every other student, and that is what rankles most. If given a choice, we'll pull for schools to find ever more clever ways to get students the academic credit they need to qualify. ↵⇥

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↵I also support the idea of a football major, but even the most expansive major only occupies maybe half of your credit hours at a university, with the rest devoted to math and English and everything else that forms the liberal arts part of a liberal arts education. Since most football players are going pro in something other than football, and even the ones who make it to the NFL are going pro in something other than football within five years, on average, just getting the kids into school is half the battle. Making sure they get enough out of it to end up somewhere other than where they came fromthe academically questionable sort of recruit is disproportionately poor, I'm guessingwill require a basic level of education that universities are ill-equipped to provide. ↵

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↵At some point, an academically deficient kid is better off at a JUCO, and running end-arounds on the system just leads to cases where a still-unprepared player has no hope of remaining eligible on the up-and-up. Relaxing academic rigor is one thing; removing it entirely is a bridge too far. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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