In present-day American culture, because there is such an obsession with college athletics, it is becoming widely believed by the constituents of higher education that the reputation of a university and the overall success of the university’s brand is directly correlated to a premiere intercollegiate athletics program. This is centered on the idea that a successful athletics programs will create a recognizable national image that promotes the university as a place for ‘all-American’ students, whether student-athletes or other, to attend. Intercollegiate athletics is a controversial topic that is continuously debated among the constituent hierarchy of higher education; prospective students, recruits, current students and student-athletes, alumni, the presidents and board-members of the universities, and even the fans. The focus of this project will be on the premise that the University’s primary mission should be to educate each student in ways that allow them to reach their fullest academic potential. However, an identifiable problem has emerged with the current system of intercollegiate sports that seems more concerned with creating a recognizable university brand by pouring millions of dollars into athletic programs, at the expense of its core academic values. By doing so, the entertainment and revenue stream have more clout and meaning than securing the student-athlete’s education process for the future. This system has drawn attention to many universities for its specific lack of moral responsibility of advocating the student-athlete to reach his/her academic potential by falling into the trap of what has essentially become an ‘arms race’ to create premiere athletic programs. Quite often, the athlete is granted academic leeway that the general student population is not, and the discussion of a double standard and questionable ethical behavior appears forefront. This project will begin by establishing, in length, the structure of this system and demonstrate the strict primary emphasis on athletics through the allocation of significant amounts of much needed funds being redirected away from academics in favor of creating brand recognition through sports. Then in turn move on to demonstrate that because of this emphasis, a powerful Role Conflict is created for student-athletes. The student-athlete, when caught in this system, struggles to distinguish between being a ‘student’ and being an ‘athlete’. Lastly, this project will address how this system affects the university’s moral code of behavior that leads to academic fraud and dishonesty, further comprising the university’s core educational values.
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