Decoding the Business of College Sports: Academics Over Athletics

Decoding the Business of College Sports: Academics Over Athletics

And it’s not just sports and athletics that take up students’ time. Wood says first year students have mandatory tutoring, team study halls in addition to community service and leadership councils and then, of course, classes and practice. “This can all happen to a student athlete in a day,” he says.

Wood also notes, however, that his students seem to thrive under the pressure. “Our student athletes graduate at a higher rate than the normal student population on most campuses,” he adds.

The NCAA has been making efforts to improve graduation rates, particularly for Black male students. A 2010 NCAA report showed an eight percent increase in graduation rates among Black males in 2003 compared to Black males from 1995 (the first year this data was collected), jumping from 51 to 59 percent. Though the numbers are still well below the overall graduation rate for student athletes in 2003, which was 79 percent, Gail Dent, a spokesperson for the NCAA says they are encouraging. “The [word] ‘student’ is there first in front of the word ‘athlete’,” she says.

Bridge couldn’t agree more.

“To me school comes first so before I start to put in that extra work on the football field, I want to make sure that all my school work is done,” he says. “That’s my first priority to get my education, my degree at the end of the day ‘cause that’s something that no one can ever take away from me.”