Strive for perfection and you may one day approach it, right?
Arkansas State has decided to accept that the premise that the majority of its student-athletes will indeed turn pro in something other than sports is right, and the school has the intention of doing something about it. Namely, it has promised a 100 percent job placement for all graduating student-athletes.
Oh yeah? Oh yeah. Take it from here, Mr. athletic director Terry Mohaijr.
"We place the highest priority on education, and Arkansas State University provides one of the best in the nation."
The school has set up the Red Wolves Leadership Academy, a program that has the stated and lone goal of fulfilling this promise for graduating student-athletes. Through the program, student-athletes will have the opportunity to study abroad, which is apparently an edge in finding a job according to CNN. (So is the fact that a person was a student-athlete if I were to guess.)
This placement abroad starts today, on May 11, with an inaugural group of student-athletes from seven different sports heading for London.
"You have to look at the big picture, and truly say ‘in the end, what is our purpose here?' Yes, we want our student-athletes to be successful in competition and win championships. However, it all comes down to making sure they graduate and leave here in the best position possible to succeed in life after college. This is about personal and professional development - gaining experiences that otherwise couldn't be obtained to enrich their chances for more job opportunities."
A Good/Noble Ideal
It's a good ideal to aspire to. Before college athletics became the big business that it currently is, it was (presumably, though that may not have been the case) about education and the betterment of young men and women, and molding them into the advanced thinkers of tomorrow.
In a world where the NCAA runs college sports, that ideal has become untenable; the marriage between college athletics and a post-high school education never quite fully made sense, but we had always been willing to celebrate the ideal of greater and higher learning. But in the world of college football and basketball, this idea has abruptly perished: college athletics is a big business, if only because it is treated as such by the people who govern it.
That being said, student-athletes do take classes and study, and their odds of making a living as professional athletes are slim to none. If Sterling Young's and Qushaun Lee's of the world can find a job with the Red Wolves Leadership Academy, then I'm all for it.
Tricky To Pull Off
This is certainly a bold promise, one that will be tricky to pull it off...but don't let that stop you from trying: accomplishing anything at a 100 percent rate is difficult. But that's not why I say this is tricky.
I say that it's tricky, because the headline may or may not have tricked me into understanding that A-State wanted a 100 percent graduation rate when I first read it. (This reflects poorly on my reading skills, something I'll be the first to admit.) Indeed, it's great to promise a job to every student-athlete who graduates, but it's even better to undertake the challenge of making every student-athlete graduate. In other words, I hope there are more and more student-athletes like these 23 from the 2015 Spring Commencement ceremony.
I'm well aware that the two aren't mutually exclusive and that promising a job to student-athletes who graduate should have a positive effect on whether they graduate, but I'm paid the big bucks to pointlessly criticize things and people.
A Recruiting Tool?
In the end, A-State athletics has made this decision and, like most decisions it makes, it should stand to benefit from it. I'm giving the school the benefit of the doubt but before anyone in Jonesboro can say Terry Mohaijr, this will have become the newest recruiting tool for the Arkansas State coaches.
It's another bright light shone on A-State, which is the definition of a recruiting tool. A student-athlete has plenty of reasons for picking Arkansas State but from now on, at least one such reasons will be that he/she wants a proper education. Mohaijr should be applauded for that.