Should Talent Outweigh Academics?

Talent and academic success are often related, however college recruitment shines an alternative light on these two traits. In many high schools, students begin to announce “verbal commitment” to highly ranked colleges as early as their sophomore year. These schools include prestigious institutions such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, in addition to schools that have also Division I sports teams such as Bucknell, University of Michigan, and Boston University. One might say it is slightly precocious of a sophomore or junior to high school to publicly make a commitment to a university of such high academic standards, but there is a fine line between a student’s grades and their talent on the field.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) outlines the GPA requirements needed to be recruited onto these elite teams. The NCAA eligibility website states, “The minimum GPA you can have and still be NCAA eligible for DI is a 2.3 GPA and a 900 SAT”(NCSA). In a town in which many of the high school classes are quite rigorous, a 2.3 GPA and a 900 SAT score are considerably lower than the average. Now, the fairness of this process comes into question. Is it entirely accurate that a talented athlete deserves to attend one of these institutions over a student who is more academically inclined? It is seemingly more difficult for a more average student to attend a university than a student who possesses an extraordinary athletic ability. Although there is a never-ending debate concerning student-athletes and academics, these special students must be acknowledged for their extreme dedication and the sacrifices they make for their craft.

Recently, actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman were caught in a scandal concerning their teenage children and the influence the two celebrities had on kid’s college acceptances. Loughlin’s daughter, Olivia Jade, a student at the University of Southern California and a member of the rowing team; allegedly did not have high enough SAT scores to attend the school, resulting in Loughlin paying off college prep companies to raise her daughter’s SAT score and bribing the coaches of the rowing team. The scandal raises the question of if Olivia Jade is actually a talented enough athlete to remain on the USC rowing team, despite her original SAT scores that are speculated to be mediocre. Even though the average parent of a student-athlete is not bribing the university or coach, student-athletes are often provided with advantages that the average English or communications major may not be privy to.