Whose Responsibility Is It Anyway: The Student- Athlete?
Academic Leadership - Online Journal,
Vol. 8 No. 1 (2007): Vol-8-Issue-1-January-2007
In today’s world of higher education, intercollegiate athletics, and complex society there is much focus
and attention placed on the student-athlete. Regardless of the region of the country, the level of the
school or the specific sport, the student-athlete experiences a high level of public and private scrutiny,
which is often negative. According to Watson (2006), the general perception of college student-athletes
is that they are privileged, pampered, lazy, out-of-control, and primarily attend school with the sole
purpose of participating in intercollegiate athletics. This stereotype is often held by people who do not
fully understand the relationship between the student-athlete and the academic setting.
The successes and the failures of student-athletes do not rest solely rest on individual athletes. The
responsibility for promoting educational success should be shared between the athlete and the
university in general because of the student label, and specifically on the athletic department because
of the athlete label. However, these two organizations, the university and the athletic department, do not
often work together with the individual student-athlete’s best interests in mind. “Intercollegiate athletics
have been described as a closed system within the institution of the university,” (Watson, 2006, p. 23).
Many athletic departments throughout the nation operate as independent companies and consider
themselves separate from the university, and sometime above direct control by the university. This
commonly occurs at major universities with tremendous tradition or clout among athletic programs who
compete on a national forefront in the major revenue sports of football and men’s basketball. This
dissonance creates a flaw in that universities frequently act under the assumption that the individual
athletic programs will handle issues and concerns of athletes, (Watson, 2006).