- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 17, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The NCAA booster cats are out of the bag courtesy of con man extraordinaire Nevin Shapiro, who told Yahoo! Sports that he financed the high life for student-athletes at the “U” by providing them with money and hookers and cars.

Oh my.

Caught red-handed.

Would the wide world of sports be as obsessed with the story if Shapiro instead had paid for textbooks and laptops and tutors for student-athletes at the University of Miami?

C’mon, man.

The student part of student-athlete was tossed out long ago, thanks in no small measure to schools that had the blessing of the NCAA, the governing organization for college sports, which is weighing sanctions against the school because of Shapiro‘s, ahem, largesse.

But let’s look at what’s supposed to be the No. 1 college priority, academic prowess, which has been kicked to the back of the bus in favor of athletic success.

Marquee schools such as Notre Dame, North Carolina and Penn State get high marks from the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, which ranked men’s and women’s teams participating in this year’s NCAA basketball tourney. The institute gave all three schools high graduation-rate marks, while other perennial sports powerhouses, among them the Universities of Maryland, Connecticut and Michigan, fell below the 50 percent ranking.

The sports world is hard-wired with tunnel vision to focus only on what will happen at the U following the NCAA investigation into Shapiro’s influential beneficence from 2002 to 2010.

If I were a betting woman, I’d gamble that heads in high places are going to roll off campus.

But that won’t be because the U is an academic slouch; it will happen because Shapiro exposed a horrible truth: When it comes to college sports, school officials cite that memorable line from “Jerry Maguire,” “Show me the money,” hold out their hands and then turn their heads.

Immigration redux: Let’s get something straight: Not all “illegal” immigrants are Hispanic or cross into our homeland via the U.S.-Mexico border.

And if you think it’s un-Christian to support laws that punish criminals, think again.

Illegal and undocumented aliens who deliberately break and then flout the law are no different from thieves who break into your home or business and then ask you to hide them from the cops.

It’s vitally important to point that out as states tighten immigration laws and the thieves’ supporters ask you to give them a break.

Yet the courts are in the throes of trying to sort out such things right now in Alabama, where Christians, the Obama administration and others are suing over a new state law that takes effect Sept. 1 and mandates, among other things, that parents prove their schoolchildren’s legal residency.

The law doesn’t single out Hispanics or any other race or ethnic group, nor should it.

The purpose of the Alabama law is to weed out and nab people who do not have legal permission to be here or have overstayed their welcome.

(Besides, don’t federal policies deal, say Cubans, a better hand than, say, Haitians?)

Worth repeating: Reporter Ben Wolfgang succinctly laid out in a Wednesday story in The Washington Times a key reason why the costs of higher education are spiraling out of control.

“In the 2007-08 academic year, the [Alliance for Excellent Education] estimates, remedial courses cost about $5.6 billion — $3.6 billion in ‘direct educational costs’ such as taxpayer contributions to state universities and another $2 billion in lost wages, a result of giving up on higher education and missing out on the bigger paychecks that tend to come with college degrees,” Ben’s story said.

If that went over your head, here’s an abbreviated version: When high schoolers don’t learn, taxpayers pay a higher cost in the long run.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]


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