Originally Posted by improbus
Every time I hear an argument like this, I can't help but think of the selfishness of college sports fans (which I exhibit too every time I talk about UK, OU or my other affiliated institutions).
We have an undying loyalty to our school where we crafted four (or more) years of amazing (and sometimes hazy) memories. Our love and loyalty to the institution is almost always deep and our need for the institution as a gateway to the professional world is great. The students equation is very logical and makes sense. We provide the school with money and they provide us the the skills, maturity, and diploma needed to make make our way in the professional world.
Good post, improbus. Some excellent points.
One thing I'd disagree with is the idea that "fans" think the way alumni do. Even alumni-fans.
I love my alma mater, both as an athletic program and an academic institution. I think one issue is that there are so many fans (even alumni-fans) who could care less or care far less about their schools as academic institutions than as athletic programs. They care about w's and l's above all.
I have no problem with a kid like John Wall, who made the most of his time as a UK student-athlete both on and off the court. He had a college experience. He wanted a college experience. And he got a good one, even if it was only for 7-8 months. I will have no problem with John Jenkins leaving my alma mater after 3 years without a degree for the same reasons (although I hope he comes back for his senior season and I'm relatively certain he'll find a way to complete his degree). The kid wanted and worked for a quality college experience, on the court, in the classroom and as a place for growing into an adult. And there are many others we could point to who have left early who have done things the right way while they were enrolled in school.
My issue is that quite a few of the "one-and-doners" (not just UK kids at all) have no business near a college campus. They're going to college because, more or less, they have to. I think kids should be able to enter the draft after high school if they so desire.
The way I view my alma mater is this: We, as alumni and fans, deserve a competitive team on the field/court because the resources are there for the coaches to bring in kids who can compete at the appropriate level (can't have always said this about Vandy football, but that is changing). But at the end of the day, the school also has to get kids who will be capable and worthy of having the same degree us alumni have. I guess I can't get over the idea that that's the whole point of having the school in the first place. If my alma mater competes at a fairly high level while remembering that it's more important to bring in and turn out quality human beings who make the most of the opportunites given them in college, I have no issues. That does not sound like too much to ask.
I also agree with you that the fans and schools are getting more out of the student-athletes' time there than the kids are. Are schools really fulfilling their missions by using these kids and allowing themselves to be used to a certain extent?