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Oklahoma football: Former Sooner Eric Mensik weighs in on HBO special on academics, his experience at OU

Former OU player Mensik is one of four athletes featured in next week’s episode of ‘Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel,’ which debuts at 9 p.m. Tuesday on HBO.
by Ryan Aber Published: March 22, 2014
/articleid/3946141/1/pictures/1120574">Photo - Eric Mensik, a converted tight end forced into action late in the season, has seized the right tackle slot for OU. Photo by Jaconna Aguirre, The Oklahoman
Eric Mensik, a converted tight end forced into action late in the season, has seized the right tackle slot for OU. Photo by Jaconna Aguirre, The Oklahoman

“I guess it would be like the entry level to each one of those,” he said.

After graduating from OU, Mensik pursued a career in professional football before moving back home to the Houston area. He now works as an account manager for a commercial insurance company in Missouri City, Texas.

“As far as them getting the classes that I needed, they did a fabulous job,” he said. “They set me up with everything I needed. They prepared me for graduation. But as far as the degree providing a starting point to get a job that I really would like to do, that degree has not helped me out so far.”

Mensik said he’s considered returning to school to get a master’s degree, but with a six-week-old son, further education has taken a back seat.

Other players interviewed in the program are former Tar Heels Bryon Bishop and Mike McAdoo and former Memphis defensive end/linebacker Dasmine Cathey.

Cathey became well-known after a story in The Chronicle of Higher Education detailed his college academic struggles — including his struggles with reading.

Cathey graduated from Memphis with a degree in interdisciplinary studies, though he didn’t know what exactly his degree was called when asked by HBO.

“You can’t see the things that are going on with the system until it’s over with — until it’s too late,” Bishop told the show. “I’m pretty much facing that now in reality. I’m asking myself what did I really get from the school.”

Gurney, who is now an assistant professor at OU, said situations like that led him to exit athletics.

“The enterprise is fraudulent,” Gurney told Real Sports. “When you sign a National Letter of Intent, the university is making a contract with the athlete. They are saying they will not pay you as a professional but they will educate you, and that’s where we across the nation fall far short.”

Mensik said he wishes colleges would do a better job of helping players once they’re done with sports.

“It’s not just an Oklahoma thing,” Mensik said. “It’s in all the schools, where the guys are leaving with general education degrees and some are really (ticked) off because they either don’t have a job or they have a job that doesn’t really pay well that they don’t have a skill-set degree that was able to land them a job that can really pay well.

“I’m not upset about any of it. I made the decisions that I made and I’m happy.”

OU does offer a Degree Completion Program, which is designed to help former student-athletes from all sports complete their degrees or attend graduate school after their athletic eligibility is expired.

by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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