Patricia Alex, Bergen Record:

$2 Million Spent to Tutor RU Athletes


Tutor a Tiger

A Scarlet Knight Academic Outreach Proposal

We Are the World

It's never pretty to have to look someone else's misfortune straight in the face.

Especially when they're the ones responsible.

But there comes a time when you stop asking whose "fault" it is.

There comes a time when, if you've got plenty and they don't have enough, you share.

Consider the situation:

      Athletes need academic support. They are athletes.

      They need tutors. Princeton University, through gross mismanagement of its budget, does not have funding to provide tutors for its athletes -- not even those on the football and basketball teams.

      Rutgers, less than twenty miles away, is privileged to have an athlete tutoring system funded at two million dollars a year.

We know the proposal that Rutgers share its athletic tutoring program with Princeton will be controversial.

Some will denounce it as a waste of NJ taxpayers' money.

Others will say that Princeton will never develop a sense of fiscal responsibility and institutional priorities if others bail them out.

We understand these criticisms.

We only ask that you listen with an open mind.


Athletes need tutors

We understand as well as anyone else the pointlessness of asking individuals who have been brought to college to play a sport to "take courses" in subjects like Greek and philosophy and physics and mathematics.

But no school has protection against muckraking journalists who will claim to be "scandalized" because some athlete is unable to read or write:

In the last decade, newspapers have embarrassed many institutions of higher education with stories about the schools' illiterate athletes. Basketball player Kevin Ross went through four years at Creighton University only to end up in a grade school in Chicago trying to learn how to read and write. The judge who sentenced Bill Don Jackson, a former football star at UCLA, to jail for voluntary manslaughter also ordered that he learn to read and write -- skills that he never mastered before or during his years at UCLA. All-NFL player Dexter Manley admitted before a congressional hearing that he was still illiterate after four years at Oklahoma State. (Sperber, College Sports, Inc, 277-78)

When these sensation-mongers attack, a university has no choice but to turn to a system of Academic Support for Athletes.

In a well-run Division IA program, the tutors of Academic Support will be there to help athletes write their papers, to take notes for them in their classes, to help them with the hard words in the reading, to walk them to class and back to the athletic dormitory-- in short, to make sure that they're treated exactly the same as every other student on campus.

Academic Support does more. It sends professors notes asking whether scholarship athletes are attending class. When  the answer is no, Academic Support takes over:

If the report on the athlete is negative -- he or she is not attending and/or passing the course -- a "babysitter" is assigned to the player. At Oklahoma, when a tutor walks an athlete to a course, the expression is that the player was "eyeballed into class." If the athlete is attending but failing the course, the babysitter will stay with the athlete in class, taking notes and explaining the material to him or her. In addition, if the athlete is on a road trip with the team, the tutor will attend the class and take notes in the player's stead. (Sperber, College Sports, Inc, 280)

It's necessary. It's inspiring. Rutgers has it. Princeton can't afford it. Something needs to be done.


Princeton's Mismanagement of Funds

We make no excuses for the mismanagement of funds that has left Princeton University without a penny to spend on Academic Support for athletes.

While athletes on Princeton teams have gone without tutors, Princeton has squandered millions on classrooms and seminar rooms to benefit thousands of so-called "students" -- some call them "drones" -- who contribute nothing to the W-L record in major sports.

While players on the football team have had to write papers without supportive tutors to provide ideas, facts, and occasional paragraphs, Princeton has spent millions on "library holdings" for the use of a few "scholars" who devote their time to "research" in areas nobody cares about anyway.

While basketball players at Princeton have had to take their own notes in class, Princeton has gone recklessly ahead lavishing money on student theater groups and musical activities.

It goes on and on.

It's not pretty.

It can't be defended.

But something needs to be done.


A Simple Act of Charity

We're not out to embarrass Princeton University.

They've been let down by a few irresponsible administrators. In time they will recover and rise to institutional greatness.

But while they're down, it is heartbreaking to see Princeton athletes going without even the simplest amenities.

Take a look at any of the so-called "seminar rooms" at Princeton, then turn your eyes to the splendid  Rutgers Athletic Facilities  of which everyone associated with Rutgers is justly proud.

We have seen Princeton athletes who set eyes on the Hale Athletic Center break down and cry.

We can't give them our weight rooms. We can't give them our player lounges. We can't invite them to our sunken theaters to watch our game films.

But we can share our tutorial services.

That's all we're asking.


A Bus Called Hope

We're not asking that the Academic Support staff choose courses and make out class schedules for Princeton athletes.

They're not paid to do that.

We're not asking that the RU tutoring staff take notes for Princeton players in their classes.

That would be a misuse of the taxpayers' money.

We don't even ask that the RU tutoring staff help Princeton players with their grammar and spelling and punctuation.

They have enough to do at Rutgers.

All we ask is that a bus be operated between the two schools so that Princeton athletes can come over and stand, with their noses pressed against the glass outside the tutorial sessions run for Rutgers athletes.

It would cost nothing.

It would give them hope.

It might make us feel  just a little bit better about ourselves.