Athletes use online boost: 2 weeks, 3 credits

When a college athlete fails or drops a class, there’s a quick, easy, low-cost way to stay eligible, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education in  Need 3 Quick Credits to Play Ball? Call Western Oklahoma. The community college offers two-week, three-credit online courses for $387 and “mails out transcripts the day after classes end, allowing players to get back on the field with minimal disruption.”

Nearly half of students in the quickie classes play college sports, the college estimates.

Lately, Western Oklahoma credits have appeared on the transcripts of one of the most highly recruited quarterbacks in the country, basketball players from numerous NCAA tournament teams, and athletes in at least 11 NCAA Division I conferences.

It’s not just the speedy credit that appeals to many players. According to dozens of academic advisers, athletes, and coaches, Western Oklahoma offers some of the easiest classes around. One Division I football player who reads at a fifth-grade level completed a three-credit health class in three sittings, his academic counselor says. Other students struggling to stay above a 2.0 on their own campus have landed A’s and B’s from Western Oklahoma—all in the academic blink of an eye.

Eric C. Liles Jr., a senior linebacker at Dakota State University, “aced” sociology by looking at videos and slides. He never bought the textbook. “In other classes, students who don’t pass an exam the first time are allowed to try again. And none of the exams in the two-week format are monitored.”

In one course, an instructor taught students to use Microsoft Excel by asking them to enter a number on a spreadsheet. Students also learned to create a slide in PowerPoint.

Nutrition is a popular course for athletes. One assignment asks students to “briefly explain why Americans are so obese, and why they themselves do or don’t take vitamins.”

Western Oklahoma State collects more than $2 million a year from online courses.

More than a dozen online programs help athletes meet NCAA eligibility rules, reports the Chronicle.

Ivy Tech Community College, in Indiana, offers 350 online courses to more than 32,000 online students. Brandon Walker, a junior at Franklin College of Indiana, took “E-School” geometry to qualify for freshman football.

 “You really didn’t have to read any information or understand what you were doing. You could just keep clicking to the end and take the quiz. Then, if you didn’t get a 75, they would refresh it for you… and make you retake it. Before you retook the quiz, they would give you the answers to every question you missed. Then they would automatically restart the exam, with the same questions and same exact answers. If I got a 60 on some, which I did, it would never show up. Only the ones above 75 got submitted.

“I couldn’t believe it—all the answers were already there for me.”

A few “developmental” online classes provided answers to quiz questions “as a teaching tool,”  Ivy Tech officials told the Chronicle. Those courses are no longer offered.

Crowded colleges make room for out-of-state athletes

California’s crowded community colleges are cutting classes, turning would-be students away and making room for out-of-state football players, reports the Desert Sun. 

More than 56 percent of College of the Desert’s football players come from other states….

A Desert Sun analysis of the football rosters of nearly all of California’s 71 community colleges found COD had 11 football players on its roster from Florida last season — but that’s only about half the 20 Floridians carried on the roster of Reedley College near Fresno. Reedley also had 14 players from Georgia.

Fullerton, Los Angeles Valley and Mendocino community colleges each had 13 football-playing Floridians last year.

Floridians end up in California because their own state ended community college football in the 1970′s to save money and maintain gender equity: Funding an all-male team requires funding several women’s teams.

California community colleges have lost more than 12 percent of funding in the past three years, reduced course offerings by 15 percent and turned away 300,000 students from the state’s 112 community colleges. Yet nearly three-fourths of California community colleges still field football teams.

State rules prohibit recruiting out-of-district players — the athlete is supposed to make the first contact — but the newspaper found multiple violations by COD’s football team.

Five state community colleges — Barstow, Feather River, Lassen, Siskiyous and Taft colleges — are given a special waiver allowing them to do unrestricted out-of-state recruiting, due to limited high school populations nearby, athletic association executive director Carlyle Carter said.

More than 86 percent of Feather River College’s football roster, 62 of 72 players, came from states other than California.

If few local students want to play varsity football, why fund a team for athletes from other states?

Few women athletes at two-year colleges

Despite federal rules mandating gender equality in college sports, women athletes find fewer opportunities to compete at many community colleges, reports the New York Times.  “Many community colleges offer an array of options for men but just a single team for women.”

At Los Angeles Southwest College, which used bond money to build a new field house and football stadium, women make up more than two-thirds of enrollment, but less than a quarter of athletes.

The college dropped women’s track, leaving basketball as the only women’s sport. Each year, the team starts with 12 players and ends the season with five or six, says Henry Washington, the athletic director.

Surveys show interest in women’s soccer and softball, but the college can’t afford to add another sport. In fact, Jack E. Daniels III, the college president, is considering eliminating the entire athletic program to save $300,000 a year.

By contrast, Pensacola State College in Florida spends $1 million a year on athletics, which pays for recruiting high school girls to play basketball, softball and volleyball: 56 percent of athletes are female.

Many athletes receive scholarships for tuition and books. Some are given housing and stipends for meals.

. . . Brenda Pena, the softball coach, sent her assistant to Colorado in June to recruit at a tournament that drew more than 100 teams nationwide. Although her team finished last in its conference this year, she said, Pensacola has a reputation for fielding strong teams and for helping its students transfer to four-year colleges. As a result, Pena said, she is able to avoid the obstacle of attracting players from an older, less engaged student body by instead recruiting students straight from high school.

Despite its recruiting efforts, Pensacola had to limit men’s athletic opportunities — men’s golf was cut and male team rosters are small — to meet Title IX rules that require the proportion of male and female athletes to reflect enrollment. Like most colleges these days, Pensacola is predominantly female.

When community colleges are putting students on wait lists for academic and job-training classes, does it make sense to spend money on athletic scholarships, stipends, recruiting trips and coaches?