Division III athletics do more for student-athletes
Division I college basketball and football are billion dollar industries. The intense pressure to compete has caused some colleges to focus too much on athletics and forever transformed the roles and responsibilities of student-athletes. The best collegiate basketball players are now barely student-athletes, as they are only required to take remedial classes for one semester in order to qualify for one season before leaving for the pros. Without the potential to graduate, Division I student-athletes have become more like professional athletes than students.
While many universities at the Division I level are losing their way, Division III schools remain a bastion for the student-athlete. Centre College President John A. Roush told the Huffington Post that Division III gets it right(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-roush/division-iii-athletics-ke_b_9347416.html):
I am confident in stating that our approach to intercollegiate athletics is decidedly stronger and represents best practice at this point in time.
Division III makes better young men and women
The aim of Division III institutions is to create tomorrow’s citizen-leaders and its core values reflect this goal. The guiding principle of Division III is to ensure that student-athletes graduate and are well prepared for the challenges of the real world.
In order to make sure they are successful in the classroom and in life, Division III programs are committed to providing a nurturing, open environment for student-athletes that celebrates fairness, honesty, cultural diversity and gender equality.
Unlike Division I, athletic directors and coaches do not wield unlimited power, as presidents and chancellors are in control of intercollegiate athletics. Academic impropriety and outrageous off-the-field behavior is not tolerated and student-athletes are held accountable for their grades. So, at the Division III level, the focus is on student-athletes and not spectators and their wallets.
For Division III schools, academic achievement and the development of life skills are way more important than the outcome of games. The mission of these smaller schools is simply to prepare young men and women to succeed in life.
Most student-athletes will not go pro
All student-athletes think that they’re going make the NBA or NFL, but the odds are heavily stacked against them. In fact, only about 1% of NCAA student-athletes end up making it to one of the premier professional leagues.
Given these bleak numbers, student-athletes who do not take their studies seriously are doing themselves a tremendous disservice.
It can be very difficult for Division I colleges to reconcile athletics and academics when millions of dollars are on the line. As a result, some schools compromise their academic integrity in order improve their bottom lines. This sort of thing does not happen at the Division III level, as their student-athletes are held to higher academic standards and better prepared for life.
College sports have become big business, but let’s remember that the business of all institutions of higher learning is to produce well-rounded young men and women.