Ripped from the Headlines:

A discussion on NCAA student athletes


There are many controversial topics circulating within the media and in the classrooms about collegiate athletes. These topics include whether or not student athletes should be paid, and if the NCAA is restricting student athletes from getting the best education. On Wednesday, Feb. 24 in the Reilley Room, a panel of professors, student athletes, and athletic department faculty members sat down to discuss these topics in the Ripped from the Headline series.

During the talk, the first topic that was brought up was whether the life of the student athlete is a job or not?

“For me, I would consider it a job because of the amount of time that they put in, but it is a job that they are passionate about,” said Margie Ierlan, Marketing Program Director. “It’s the best of both worlds. I do know that not all student athletes have scholarships, so there is no payment. Can’t really call it a job because you aren’t getting paid for it in any sense, but doing it for the passion.”   

With the idea that being a student-athlete is a job, there have been talks about people feeling that student athletes should be paid.

Chair of the Economics department, Wayne Grove, suggests that perhaps student athletes should only take one or two classes during their seasons, and come back after they are done playing to finish their degrees.

“The NCAA has all these rules that as a student athlete you cannot be paid,” stated Wayne Grove, chair of the Economics department at Le Moyne. “ It’s a fundamental problem that, clearly at Le Moyne, but also in other institutions where there are students who are minor or pre professional athletes. The demands are endless. They want to excel, they want to do well, but how can they possibly be a real college student when you work those certain levels..”

Student moderator Sabrina Riley asked the panel whether the NCAA is restricting students from getting the best education since at times athletes pick a major that is easy when balancing with athletics.

“I don’t think that the NCAA is restricting students athletes from pursuing the major they want to pursue,” stated graduate assistant Ryan Romich. Romich played on the Le Moyne men’s basketball team and graduated with a double major.  

In addition to Romich, there are many student athletes who are pursuing the major they want, regardless of how challenging the major is.   

“I have known since high school that I wanted to study Biology, because I wanted to do something in the health professions field,” says senior women’s lacrosse player Maggie Monant.

Last season, Monnat received the Elite 89 Award for NCAA Division II Championship. This award is given to an athlete who has reached the highest of competition in the national championship level in their sport and also has the highest academic performance.

“As far as balancing two sports (the first two years, now just one sport) and academics, it is challenging,” said Monnat, who also played on the soccer team for her first two years at Le Moyne. “Being in season during a semester means a lot of travel and missed class time. Staying in communication with my professors and other classmates is crucial. It’s always important to manage my time, even if it means cutting out some things that I want to do for things I have to do. Overall, it’s an incredibly rewarding experience so it is absolutely worth it.”

In many Division 1 institutions, some student athletes believe they are going to the pros and may pick a major that they view to be easier than others. The reality though is that a very small amount of athletes make it to the pros.  

“There are actually very few college athletes that know they will have a successful career in the pros,” stated Grove. “The probability of living the career in the pros is miniscule for great athletes. Those that actually get drafted and make the team is tiny. I understand a lot of people tell great athletes that they are going to play in the pros but the number who actually have careers in the pros and can earn a college degree or life earning is so small compared to the number of people who get drafted.”

The NCAA’s statistics show that in Football, the NFL drafts only 1.6 percent of college players. Men’s basketball is even smaller with only 1.2 percent of college players drafted by the NBA.

Many student athletes demonstrate how it is possible to be the best in academics and in athletics.

“It’s possible to be an excellent athlete and an excellent student. I’ve had plenty of students who were great athletes and who excelled in the classroom,” said Ierlan.

At Le Moyne, there are many student athletes who have proven that they are able to balance being successful in both the classroom and in athletics.

During the Fall 2015 semester, the Le Moyne Athletic department had a record-breaking semester with 69 percent of the Student Athletes named to the NE-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. In order for a student athlete to be eligible, they must have met or exceeded a minimum GPA of a 3.0 for the semester.   

“The data suggests that the people at Le Moyne are able to do it all. They can pursue both sides of the equation,” said Le Moyne athletic director Matt Bassett.  “For example this semester in January, we have 21 teams. 20 of those teams maintained an average GPA of 3.1. Overall GPA of 346 athletes was a 3.22.”  

The panel at the talk all agreed that the academic success of the student athletes here at Le Moyne is not possible without the support of coaches, professors, and faculty administrative staff. All of them are supportive of the student athletes and helping them as best they can.  

The next Ripped from the Headlines segment will be held on March 31.