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When Athletics Takes Precedence Over Academics in Higher Education

Over in Walt Gardner's Reality Check Blog today, Gardner reviews a recent New York Times article about Coastal Carolina's attempt to build a brand name through athletics instead of academics. It's well worth a read, and certainly raises questions about what's taking priority on college campuses these days: academics or athletics?

Here's an excerpt from Gardner's entry:

[Coastal Carolina President David] DeCenzo's second mistake was to hire Cliff Ellis as coach, even though his programs at Clemson and Auburn had been found guilty of major NCAA infractions, and placed on two years' probation. These cases involved grade-fixing, illicit payments to recruits, and improper dealings with an agent.
It's hard to understand DeCenzo's thinking. If he genuinely wanted to build a reputation for Coastal Carolina, why didn't he make his first order of business recruiting star professors? After all, academics is supposed to be the reason for college. But once he decided to place his bet on athletics, DeCenzo could have at least searched for a coach without the baggage that Ellis brought with him.
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