Just because Penn State wound up in a minor bowl this year, many fans are using the F-word (that’s “failure”) to describe the program. It’s nice to aspire to a BCS bowl every year and it’s even nicer when Penn State actually makes it to one. However, we have something else to cheer about and that’s Penn State’s academic success rate, which based on certain measures would have put the Nittany Lions in the mythical Academic BCS title game this year. Their opponents would have been Boston College. These are two excellent football programs with the distinction of being better than everyone else in the way their players perform academically. So says Lindsey Luebchow in the Patriot-News this morning:
Unless we are prepared to adopt a purely mercenary approach to college sports — and perhaps pay players rather than perpetuate the charade of the student-athlete — we should recognize that the future of most college football players depends on getting a college degree, not on securing an NFL contract.
We should care [that] only 32 percent of Texas football players leave campus after four or five years of playing football with a degree. And we should applaud the 72 percent of Penn State players who leave with a degree. Even more important though, we should care about ensuring that Penn State and all colleges and universities provide all of their students with the skills needed to get a good job. A college’s job is not simply to graduate students; it is to educate them.
Read this excellent piece here.
Let’s not forget what the university’s true mission is. Let’s not forget college football the way it was before television and corporate sponsorship. I’m fortunate (in a way) that I’m old enough to remember those things. I recognize that I’m an anachronism. However, I hope I don’t stand alone when I say that I would prefer to think of Penn State as a distinguished institution of higher learning first, and as a football team second.