While it is disappointing that the Tech basketball team lost scholarships by falling below scholarship rankings this year, it is not fair for the NCAA to expect athletes to be held to the rigor of the academic standards enforced by the NCAA. These standards put unfair pressure on student athletes who are already expected to perform weekly for students and alumni.
The NCAA operates under the assumption that all athletes are students first, athletes second, even though for many of these students, the chance to play in college is an largely an opportunity to get into the professional leagues later. This priority means that those students who plan to have a career in pro basketball are focusing on improving their basketball skills, not their GPAs.
Even if you maintain the assumption that athletes should prioritize being a student, the standards held to them are higher than normal students. A Tech student who fails a class, but maintains the GPA required to stay off of academic probation, is not penalized by any clubs they may be a part of, and there is no repercussion for the club itself. Athletes however, cannot fail any class without hurting the team.
In the same manner, expecting athletes to attend every class is a unfair criteria to judge scholarship by. Most students at Tech have skipped a class at some point without any direct penalty aside from worse grades. The graduation rate expectation on athletes also hurts the effectiveness of the NCAA scholarship ratings. A player that makes it into an NBA career shouldn’t be a penalty to the team by not graduating. By taking away the two extra scholarships from the team next year, the NCAA isn’t hurting the players who failed, but the team as a whole.
Basketball scholarship is looking up, though. With the addition of John Babul as academic advisor to the basketball team, we expect not to fall short of the NCAA standards in the future.