It is easy for people to criticize when they don’t know what is really going on or if the facts they are basing their opinion on are incomplete. I feel this is often the case when it comes to the perception many people have of the importance student-athletes put on taking advantage of a free education.
It’s frustrating because a lot of people get upset with student-athletes and say they are not focused on school; that they are not taking advantage of the opportunity, they are given. But the reality of the situation is different than what people think.
Student-athletes are not given the time to take advantage of that 'free education.' I would love for a regular student to have a student-athlete’s schedule during the season for just one quarter or one semester and show me how you balance that.
Show me how you would schedule your classes when you can’t schedule classes from 2-to-6 o’clock on any given day. Show me how you’re going to get all your work done when after you get out at 7:30 or so. You’ve got a test the next day, you’re dead tired from practice, and you still have to study just as hard as everybody else every day and get all the same work done.
When you’re a student-athlete, you don’t have that kind of time.
The perception people have about student-athletes is skewed from the start. You’re on scholarship they pay for your room and board, they pay for your education. Easy, right?
But you’re there to play football. You’re not on scholarship for school.
It sounds crazy when a student-athlete says that, but that’s those are the things coaches tell them every day: ‘You’re not on scholarship for school.’
Luckily, I was blessed to go to Stanford and a school that was primarily focused on academics, so it was a blessing. It was a little bit better. As Jim Harbaugh would attest, we were also there for football.
But there were still guys like Andrew (Luck) who majored in engineering, an incredibly tough road to take when you're in football because a lot of the classes conflict with your time as a football player. You have an engineering class from 2 to 3:30, there's no way you can do both.
You can't go to meetings and take your engineering class from 2 to 3:30, so what do you do? What do you do? Do you switch your major or do you tell your coach, ‘Hey, I've got an engineering class from 2 to 3:30 and I have to go to that.'
That's a conflict of interest. People don't realize how often student-athletes get faced with those types of scenarios. But it's not something that hurts the bottom line in a lot of people's lives, so I don't think it'll be something that will be addressed.