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The North Wind

The North Wind

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Academics should come before sports

March Madness is in full swing, and as a sports writer I can’t help but think of the inspiring Cinderella stories that make the event so great.

For example, in 2003 Dwayne Wade became one of three players to ever earn a triple-double in the NCAA Tournament and he did it against the highly favored Kentucky Wildcats. This performance helped to earn Marquette University its second straight appearance in the Final Four.

With such accomplishments, a kid from a small school in Wisconsin was able to go fifth overall in the NBA draft after just three years of college.

While this is a great story – and March Madness has made plenty more – as a college student, I can’t help but think of all the money that college athletics waste on scholarships for players like Wade who leave school early without earning a degree.

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With the struggling economy, I think now, more than ever, colleges need to rethink the current scholarship process.

Too often, we see great basketball players play just one or two years at the college level and go to the professionals without ever earning a degree. Part of the reason for this is the NBA raised its entrance age to 19.

I don’t believe athletes should have the chance to waste college scholarship money if they on plan on playing for one year and then turning pro.

College athletes should be treated just like any other college student who is given a scholarship. The expectation upon them should be to graduate with a degree.

Universities should work hand-in-hand with professional sports leagues like the NBA and make athletes who deserve a scholarship sign a contract that guarantees their full commitment to a school until they complete their degree.

Players who choose to break this contract by going pro, should have to pay a percentage of their signing bonuses back to their college’s general scholarship fund, in order to give other students a chance to earn a degree where they failed to.

This idea would only work if professional sports changed the rules about draft eligibility and gave prospective athletes the choice to either turn pro out of high school or go to college.

It is a simple all-or-nothing concept. Either you go to school and graduate, or you go pro right out of high school.

Whether or not to get a college education is a decision all young adults have to make.

If an athlete decides against it, he or she is putting all their eggs into one basket and settling with just a high school diploma like anyone else.

This can be the right decision for many. Numerous NBA players have dominated at the professional level without a college education, including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.

There are plenty of other successful people in the world who don’t need or want a college degree.

In order for more scholarship money to be directed toward potential graduates, coaches and scouts should act like scholarship foundations and only recruit players who can balance athletics and academics and not sign one-year, All-Star players to fill the stands.

If coaches truly believe that academics come first they should enforce that policy.

Along with getting an education, college athletes are in the perfect setting to improve their game, so they have the best of both worlds.

They can train and prepare for the NBA and still have a fall back in case anything happens.

The whole purpose of a scholarship is to lessen the financial burden of college, and we shouldn’t let athletes who have no intention of ever earning a degree waste that money.

If more athletes who are dedicated to school are given a scholarship, it can certainly make for more Cinderella stories than March Madness.

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