While some may pine for the ability to recruit and bring in the same athletes dotting the rosters of Florida, LSU, Texas and USC, what cost does the school ultimately pay? Notre Dame aspires to and upholds the importance of student-athletes. They assume responsibility for the kids matriculating through their halls, which honestly cannot be said at other top 25 schools. These players earn their degrees and, consequently, are better equipped to make a difference in the world. Can we have our cake and eat it too? Of course. But a pattern of graduation success should always be established first, not the other way around. I'm sure there may be plenty of opinions one way or the other on this subject and I welcome a good discourse. Frankly, it's not talked about enough.
On the topic of bearing responsibility for graduating players, I came across an intriguing article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. A snippet of the nuts and bolts from the two University of Oklahoma professors proposal reads:
We propose measuring coaches' success in recruiting student-athletes who succeed academically in college. We call that measure the Coaches' Graduation Rate. The CGR, determined by tracking the graduation rate of every athlete whom a coach recruits, would establish a standard of accountability for coaches...colleges and universities can make it clear that the academic life of the student is a central, not tangential, part of his or her life on the campus. Monitoring athletes' academic performance would signal that the institutional fit of a potential recruit is a real consideration, in addition to the student's athletics prowess.
A Coaches' Graduation Rate. Wow, that would make for a great PTI debate. Though it's hard to envision the NCAA endorsing something like this, it's thought-provoking nonetheless. I'll defer to Doug, Kevin and other esteemed esquires for an interpretation of the legality of such a policy. Would this consitute an invasion of privacy on any level? If the NCAA put their dollar-centric mode of thinking aside and actually passed legislation, this could become a reality.
I can't help but wonder what Bob Huggins' CGR would've been 5 years ago. He would have been unhirable. Would this tarnish the legacy of championship coaches like Dennis Erikson, Bob Stoops and Pete Carroll? I realize there's a difference between a kid flunking out or not earning enough credits with that of a player leaving school early for the pros. It's the equivalent of a pharmaceutical company swooping in and luring a 4.0 chemical engineering student before they graduated to work at the best labs in the world. The student would be a fool for not jumping at the opportunity. But, something tells me those pharma companies value a degree a wee bit more than the NBA or NFL. At the very least, a school would take on the onus of everyone in the country knowing they were selling their soul to the devil when they brought in retread coaches with a proven track record for not caring about the student part of the equation.
You know who would rank at the top of any historical CGR? The incomparable taskmaster Robert Montgomery Knight. A parting present for all you Knight fans - The General at his best.
Coach Knight probably just heard Greg Graham failed his biology quiz. Or Todd Lindeman turned in an English paper two days late. Perhaps Tom Coverdale fell a credit short of graduating. Or maybe the mere thought of Ted Valentine crept into his head. Sorry for the tangent.