West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on College Athletes

Isn't it amazing how people today are so impressed when collegiate athletes decide to finish their senior year rather than turn pro? Call me "old fashioned," but I was always under the belief that the purpose of a college scholarship (athletic or academic) was to acquire an education and earn a degree. So, pardon me if you don't appreciate the next statement. But I have little respect for student-athletes who even contemplate not finishing college for the almighty dollar, especially when they have superior intellectual talents as well.

In my opinion, high school athletes who accept college letters of intent should do so with the expectation of graduating from those institutions of higher education. I also believe that the colleges or universities accepting them should have at least one stipulation in the scholarship contract. Consider the following. If an athlete decides to leave college his senior year to accept a lucrative professional position, he should be required to pay back all the scholarship monies spent on him while matriculating at that school. Furthermore, this monetary restitution should then be used for an academic program, be it the university's library, research, or scholarships for others who truly want an education. Even though some might say that the great athlete is being exploited by colleges to bring in gate revenues, I disagree. To my way of thinking, he's being given the opportunity for an outstanding education if he wants it.

Of course, major-sport participants have to train very hard throughout the entire year. But athletes in minor sports work just as hard, with no delusions of "professional-athletic" grandeur. They view their athletic scholarships as a financial means to an end--a college education. Maybe we have lost perspective as to why sports are a part of higher education. It was never the original intention of college or university founders to prepare athletes for professional competition. Sports were introduced into the college curriculum to assist in developing a well-rounded individual.

In closing, it is up to the parents, teachers, and coaches of outstanding athletes to stress the importance academics as well as athletics when accepting a college scholarship. By doing so, future athletes are more likely to attend college with the primary goal of "playing to learn, not playing to earn." What do you think?

Return to the West Virginia Mat Thoughts Index Page
Return to the WV-Mat front page

Updated November 27, 1997