March Madness Also Reflects Sadness

Mar 25, 2011, 14:45 ET from Wake Forest University

Experts Warn of Growing Challenges Facing College Student Athletes

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., March 25, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As millions of viewers tune in to March Madness this month, an increasingly vocal group of experts is calling attention to the growing divide between the big business of NCAA sports and the well-being of student athletes who are generating record revenues for their universities.

"Low graduation rates among certain student athletes, the lack of pay for college players, and improprieties in the recruiting process are just some of the hot button issues making headlines this year," said Timothy Davis, one of the country's best known law scholars and the John W. & Ruth H. Turnage Professor of Law at Wake Forest University. Davis urges student athletes, their parents, and athletic administrators to consider these facts:

Winners and Losers: A new report shows while 2010 tournament teams graduated 84 percent of their white male athletes, only 56 percent of black male athletes earned their college degree. Yet black athletes make up the majority of Division I collegiate basketball players.

No Pay for Play: The NCAA recently inked a 14-year, $10.8 billion deal with CBS and Turner Sports to broadcast the March Madness tournament games, and top coaches regularly take home paychecks that number in the millions. Yet many student athletes, and especially those of color, often struggle to make ends meet as their benefits are largely restricted to the value of their scholarships.

Unfair Advantage - The case of Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton once again put the spotlight on improper recruiting practices for college athletes.  Now experts are calling into question practices used to induce athletes in general.

After the final whistle blows on the Championship Game in April, an unprecedented team of experts will gather at Wake Forest University to discuss these and other issues. The conference, entitled Losing to Win: Discussions of Race and Intercollegiate Sports, will examine solutions to the challenges currently facing college athletics, particularly as they relate to minority student athletes.

"We believe this is a vitally important conversation that needs to be held if we are to see changes in current practices that harm our student athletes and their institutions," said Davis, an organizer of the conference. "We plan to continue the dialogue long after March Madness ends so that we will hopefully move closer to enacting reforms."

The conference is scheduled for April 13 and 14, 2011 on the campus of Wake Forest University, and admission is free. For a full schedule and information on participants, visit

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SOURCE Wake Forest University