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Some athletes have no business being on an NCAA campus

Former OSU players talked in Sports Illustrated of teammates who were functionally illiterate, of Dez Bryant's difficulty with staying eligible, of being shuttled into online classes or classes taught by easy instructors.
by Berry Tramel Published: September 11, 2013

So imagine the scene. You're not particularly good in school in the first place. You're placed into an academic setting with high achievers sitting all around you. The instructor speaks on their level, not yours.

Total confusion. No way can that athlete be competitive in the classroom. It's not possible.

So someone like Marilyn Middlebrook, or Terry Henley, OSU's football academic adviser, is asked to clean up the mess.

Terry Henleys all over America are asked to make up for 12 years of non-education in high school. Asked to look for ways to keep athletes eligible.

This is madness.

Which leads us to Dez Bryant. The help Dez received at OSU was spotlighted by SI. He's maybe the best Cowboy talent since Barry Sanders, so OSU was going all out to help, no doubt about it.

Yes, he was sheparded to class. Yes, he received constant tutor help. But I got a call from an OSU source Wednesday who was more disappointed than outraged at the depiction of Dez in the SI story.

Absolutely, Dez struggled to stay eligible. Yes, Dez probably had no business being a college student. But Dez tried, the source said. He sat down with tutors and worked hour after hour after hour.

Remember the old television practice of introducing starters before games, by showing you their face, their name, their hometown and their major?

We don't do that anymore. But if we did, you'd see that, yes, a bunch of OSU players major in sociology. And a bunch of Virginia football players do the same. At OU, it's multidisciplinary studies. At Michigan, general studies. At Texas A&M, agriculture leadership.

It's called majoring in eligibility, and it's caused by low admission standards.

Of course, that's no excuse for academic fraud. No excuse for cheating on tests or ghostwritten papers.

OSU president Burns Hargis should form a posse today to determine if State had professors giving unearned grades or staff members doing work for athletes. Same with the frats and sororities and every other group on campus.

But Sports Illustrated didn't give Hargis much to work with in the way of clues. And even if you eradicate the corrupt, the academic problems of college football will have been solved not one bit.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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