College athletes’ devil’s bargain: play or learn

Orin Starn:

Duke Blue Devil fans have pleasurably watched rival UNC’s cheating scandal..

But we should not be so smug. Our cloistered university has its very own sports scandal. Every year, Duke athletes collectively miss classes by the thousands. Their absences are curiously registered as “short term illnesses,” but team travel is the real reason. Planes, buses and a private jet – only for Coach K’s hoopster royalty – transport Duke players to games nationwide. “Unrivalled Ambition,” the Athletic Department’s strategic plan is hubristically entitled. We must have top sports teams, because, well, we are Duke. All about excellence.

But sports excellence comes at a price. It’s a full-time job being a Division I athlete, about 40 hours a week according to an NCAA study. A college athlete’s life? Practice. Games. Travel. Playing from behind on schoolwork.