Studies show he’s right.
UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen. Image by Eric Chan/Flickr.
Junior UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen has never been shy about airing his opinions, whether it’s pointing out the tortuous logic employed by the NCAA to defend amateurism or pinging the president. He does so even if unnamed scouts and UCLA head coach Jim Mora have already started to whisper that maybe the best course of action would be to clam up, lest his status as a highly-touted prospect suffer.
Luckily, Rosen isn’t heeding any of this authoritarian-hued concern trolling. In an interview at Bleacher Report, published on Aug. 8, Rosen described the difficulties he’s faced trying to keep two very taxing plates spinning: getting ready for what is assumed to be his final college season and completing his degree in economics.
Via Bleacher Report:
“Look, football and school don’t go together. They just don’t. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs. There are guys who have no business being in school, but they’re here because this is the path to the NFL.”
Rosen is absolutely right. In 2015, CBS Sports got its hands on an unreleased study of Pac-12 athletes of both genders and across multiple sports, which revealed that, contra NCAA regulations, on average, they’ll devote 50 hours per week to their chosen sport. (The NCAA caps the total at 20 hours per week, and while official team-related activities only slightly exceed that total at 21 hours per week, they’ll tack on an additional 29 hours of travel, medical treatment, and “voluntary” practices — none of which are tabulated as part of the official 20-hour limit, according to the NCAA.)
As such, many athletes are left "too exhausted to study" and burdened with “anxiety and a loss of sleep that hinders academic and athletic performance," the study’s authors wrote.
A similar study conducted in 2008, which surveyed 21,000 Division I, II, and III athletes, also found they were devoting over 40 hours per week to sports, and a 2006 NCAA study tabulated that athletes averaged 45 hours per week. The latter was cited by two ex-student athletes who filed a lawsuit charging the University of North Carolina with committing academic fraud. Their degrees were functionally useless, they alleged, given that they were built on a foundation of no-show classes, meager homework assignments often completed by tutors, and gifted grades intended to keep the school’s prized athletes academically eligible no matter what.
Rosen is all-too aware that the rules will often be severely bent — if not wholly broken — for scholarship athletes, no matter how reputable any university’s academic standards might be, particularly when it comes the higher-grossing sports like football and basketball.
“Any time any player puts into school will take away from the time they could put into football. They don’t realize that they’re getting screwed until it’s too late. You have a bunch of people at the universities who are supposed to help you out, and they’re more interested in helping you stay eligible. At some point, universities have to do more to prepare players for university life and help them succeed beyond football. There’s so much money being made in this sport. It’s a crime to not do everything you can to help the people who are making it for those who are spending it.”
Yet another study from 2011 demonstrated that, for major college sports programs, there’s an inverse relationship between good grades and a winning record. Bleacher Report asked Rosen how some athletes have been able to square this thorny circle and earn a degree in three years while still competing at a high level. Rosen said he had no intention of slighting the accomplishments of players like DeShaun Watson, but the entire apparatus of college football works against the NCAA’s stated ideal — namely, support for and the creation of true “student-athletes.”
“If I wanted to graduate in three years, I’d just get a sociology degree. I want to get my MBA. I want to create my own business. When I’m finished with football, I want a seamless transition to life and work and what I’ve dreamed about doing all my life. I want to own the world. Every young person should be able to have that dream and the ability to access it. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”
It really isn’t.