NIU gains integrity, not wins in sports

By Chris Jurmann

It seems today you can’t make it through a week of news without hearing about the latest major college to be caught in some form of scandal.

The “scandalous” activities that have occurred here at NIU over the past few months are minor compared to what seems to be happening all over the country.

At the same time, however, it doesn’t seem to come as that big of a surprise to us. The public seems to have a sense that this goes on, but we don’t want to admit it until it actually happens.

Movies like “The Program” and “He Got Game” have shown us how the world of big-time athletics has changed the way we treat the young people who make college athletics happen.

As a result, the common young athlete has changed. They stereotypically are labeled as selfish and greedy, but we don’t look around to see what turns them into this type of person. It is their background and how they are treated by others.

If the recent recruiting scandals across the country are any indication, we are teaching these athletes how to act greedy and selfish. A way to win someone’s heart is through money and sex, not education.

I believe NIU is lucky in that respect. While we haven’t always had athletic teams to be excited about, we also aren’t pressured to produce the best possible group of players at any cost.

It is that pressure that pushes coaches and university athletics to make mistakes and hurt the athletes they recruit more than they could ever help them.

NIU still remains a university that focuses on its athletes being student-athletes, rather than athlete-students. Sure, there are always players who will get into trouble or be declared academically ineligible. But it won’t be because the athletic department encouraged it to occur.

You may live out the rest of your life without ever seeing a top-10 national high school prospect come to NIU. You may never even see an NIU football or basketball team enter the top 10 in any of the national polls. However, we can all take pride in the idea that NIU does its best to create the best possible athletes they can, without sacrificing the integrity of the university.