Feature

College jocks who read like children

College athletes may be national heroes, but a staggering number “read like fifth-graders.”

Sara GanimCNN.com

College athletes may be national heroes, but a staggering number “read like fifth-graders,” said Sara Ganim. A new CNN investigation has found that up to 18 percent of college football and basketball players read at an elementary school level. Learning specialist Mary Willingham says she had to help one student-athlete at the University of North Carolina read his own news clippings, and taught another to sound out multisyllabic words like Wis-con-sin, “as kids do in elementary school.” How do virtually illiterate athletes get into college and get passing grades in their classes? In the multimillion-dollar business of college sports, colleges aren’t likely to turn away talented players or let them flunk out. So faculty and tutors write athletes’ papers, give them answers to tests, and hand out grades for classes they don’t attend. No one cares about preparing them for a productive life after their fleeting sporting dreams are over. It’s unconscionable, but with football and basketball dollars constantly rolling in, it’s unlikely that “a beast as big as collegiate athletics can be tamed.”

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