I must confess, that after reading the piece entitled “Academics for Athletes Come Under Fire” in your March 21st edition, I was thoroughly insulted. As a student-athlete here at UM, I feel obliged to reply to the personally offensive article, expressing my sincere disgust. I will not comment on the Andre Johnson case; simply, it is none of my business. Nor will I comment on the Honor Council and its procedures. My sole objective is to rebuke, and therefore, to hopefully dismiss some of the generalizations and stereotypical statements regarding student-athletes, which can be found in the article.
After reading your article, one would think that student-athletes at UM are here only for athletics. If this were the case, the term “student-athlete” would not exist; there would be UM students, and there would be UM athletes, but no one would fulfill both roles simultaneously. However, this is not the case, as scores of true “student-athletes,” individuals who successfully balance the intense challenges of both academics and athletics, walk the UM campus daily.
To imply that student-athletes are worthless once they step off the field is not only invalid but also ignorant. The bottom line is that UM student-athletes excel all around – not just athletically. Please allow me to use myself as a modest example. I am a 4.0 student, in the honors program, (and although I was recruited for athletics) on academic scholarship. I hold leadership positions in my fraternity, as well as in a dozen other organizations/volunteer groups on campus. I also have a part time job. I am well aware that many student-athletes at UM have similar credentials; in fact, several teammates of mine have resumes that far exceed my own.
I cannot argue that all student-athletes here strive for scholastic excellence; for some, the only goal is merely to make the grades needed in order to stay eligible for athletic competition. One will find UM athletes who “are at a 10th grade reading and writing level,” to quote the former UM English professor who was interviewed in the article. One will also find athletes who choose “majors that require minimal course requirements and to enroll in classes of professors who are ‘easy graders,'” as stated by the same professor. However, one will also find students, who are not athletes, at the same reading and writing level and pursuing the same “easy” majors. Taking the easy way out academically is a matter of one’s personal integrity and self-motivation, and it is in no way correlated to one’s athletic status.
I would greatly appreciate it if you would avoid making generalizations about groups of students in future publications – especially those groups of students to which I belong. Stereotypes do nothing but reveal one’s own ignorance.
University of Miami Men’s Cross Country/Track and Field