Like a lot of community colleges, we don’t have any “real” sports. Some intramurals, some intraschool clubs, but nothing that has a mascot or a fan base or even a guaranteed presence from one semester to the next. I like that. Athletics are just another extracurricular to us. A few students choose to do them for fun, and the rest of the school goes on its merry way without being affected. Sports don’t deform the academic landscape around here.

Sometimes other schools’ athletic programs do crash through the walls and land on my desk, though. It just happened twice in one day. The first time was a phone call from a coach at SLAC #1, about an hour away. He worked here once and he knows how we run things; Coach was looking for a short-term class that he could put an athlete in so that the athlete could maintain eligibility. We had a few choices thanks to an arrangement with SLAC #2, a school that’s targeting working adults who can do month-long courses. I rattled off a list of options for Coach and asked “What are the student’s academic strong suits?”

“He doesn’t have any,” said Coach. No preamble, no explanations, no consideration of how these classes will affect (or be affected by) the student. He did try to open a discussion of which class would be easiest to pass, though.

Yessir, I’m full of faith that SLAC #1 is looking out for their student-athletes.

Later that afternoon I sat down with one of our own students — call him Ruck — who I met at his orientation this fall. Ruck started late, with the implication that he was failing out of another school. Even though he works full-time, and even though the only courses available were accelerated ones, Ruck insisted that he had to have at least 12 credits. Why, I asked? Because he’s being recruited by SLAC #2, ironically enough, but they’ll only take him if he can get through one full-time semester somewhere and keep at least a B average.

We ended up giving Ruck what he wanted over my objections.

Ruck came back to see me a couple weeks ago. He still hadn’t gotten books for any of his classes, he’s failing at least half of them, and he wanted me to put in a good word with his instructors. We had a frank talk instead. He left unhappy and hasn’t come to any of his follow-up appointments.

Through this, I have yet to learn what Ruck wants to major in or what his post-college goals are. He doesn’t talk about that. He might not have any goals beyond playing sportsball at SLAC #2. Again, who’s looking out for him?


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