Skip to content

NCAA: Not our job to 'ensure the quality of the education of student-athletes'

Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

It's not our problem.

That's what the NCAA says when it comes to the education of student-athletes.

The commission released a statement Wednesday regarding a lawsuit by former University of North Carolina student-athletes, who claimed they were caught in the crossfire of the biggest academic fraud scandal in collegiate sports history.

Bogus classes were offered at UNC in the early 2000s, allowing athletes to remain academically eligible.

The NCAA says it was the school's job to ensure educational quality.

"This case is troubling for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the law does not and has never required the NCAA to ensure that every student-athlete is actually taking full advantage of the academic and athletic opportunities provided to them," Donald Remy, the NCAA's chief legal officer, told CNN's Sara Ganim.

Since the scandal surfaced, the NCAA has distanced itself little by little. In its response to the lawsuit filed by former UNC athletes, it stated in a court filing that it "did not assume a duty to ensure the quality of the education of student-athletes," and "the NCAA does not have 'direct, day-to-day, operational control'" over member institutions like UNC.

Gerald Gurney, a former athletic-academic director who is now president of The Drake Group for academic integrity in collegiate sport, says that's the kind of ignorance that landed the NCAA in this predicament. 

"It's nonsense. It's double talk," Gurney said. "If you look at their basic core principles, it's all about academics, the experience, the integration of academics, and the education of the student is paramount. 

"They seem to talk out of both sides of their mouths."

Gurney has a point. On the NCAA's website, the commission spells it out clearly - it takes academics seriously.

"We embrace our role in providing student-athletes the skills for what comes next in life," the website states. "It’s our commitment - and our responsibility - to give young people opportunities to learn, play and succeed."

On the other side of the coin, Rick Burton, a sports management professor at Syracuse, says there's no logic to beating up on the NCAA. 

Burton says that schools are taking the opportunity to throw rocks at the commission simply because the opportunity presents itself.

"I understand, I think, where the NCAA is coming from," Burton said. "We would not let the NCAA come in and tell us how to run our chemistry department at Syracuse University." 

UNC, which claims it's protected by state law, is also being sued by the former students. The school is asking the case to be thrown out, despite admitting to the fraud, saying the athletes waited too long to file the suit.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox