In recent news , Hibbing Community College Provost Ken Simberg is looking to suspend/drop the Cardinal Football program starting with the 2007 season.
He gives this as his reasoning:
“The academic performance of the members of the football team is poor, sub par,” he said. “Particular to last year’s team and this year’s team, we’ve seen these students experience even more academic struggles. Some students are even having trouble with developmental courses.”
The average grade point average (GPA) of an HCC football player over the past five years has been approximately 1.8 (on a 4.0 scale), according to Simberg.
“The football program is the only athletic program that we have that has an accumulative GPA of below 2.0. All of our other programs are between 2.3 and 2.8,” he said. “It’s also noteworthy that 90 percent of our football players take at least one developmental education course.”
To me this seems like nothing more than an excuse and it raises a couple of questions for me. The biggest question being how is it possible for the team to have an average grade point average of just 1.8? When I played in 1996 the rules were pretty cut and dry. In order to be eligible to play and be a part of the team, any sports team, you needed to maintain a grade point average of at least 2.0. We had to have weekly and sometimes daily reports filled out by our instructors that showed how we were doing and if we dipped below the expectation lines we simply were not allowed to play until we fixed our academic status. What this whole thing says to me is that somewhere along the line the “student athletes” have been allowed to skate by without having to maintain any sort of standards. The have gone from being “student athletes” to just plain “athletes”. The only way that could have happened is if the rules were bent or special rules/standards were put in place so that they could keep the players here and have a chance at a winning organization.
The Cardinal football program has been around since 1920 and now that the fine folks that head up the college have created the mess they are in, they are going to punish the current players/students and potential student athletes by yanking the program. What should happen is that the rules that have been in place for as long as I can remember should just be enforced. If these football players aren’t cutting it in the classroom, they don’t get to play ball. It’s as simple as that. But don’t pull the plug on the whole program and basically punish those that are maintaining their grades and working hard. Maybe it’s time someone takes a good hard look at the quality of work Mr. Simberg does? If he was doing his job and really keeping an eye on things, there wouldn’t be a debate about this at all because the grades of the student players would have been at least 2.0 or above.
I personally feel that he has no clue what he is doing and that he is just looking to push the blame onto the players and the program, when in reality it should fall squarely on his shoulders and trickle down from there to the other staff that are responsible for making sure that the players are held accountable for thier classroom performance as well as on the field performance. If he sends the message that HCC is looking for high quality student athletes that can excel in the classroom first and on the field second they would attract those types of students. He needs to truly believe in that otherwise we see the Pygmalion Effect take hold as it has already.
The best part about all if this is when Mike Raich, the HCC Dean of Students, was asked to explain what they are planning to do to both recruit and retain students if the program is cut his response was this. “We hope to take action to counter the effect if the football program is suspended,” said Raich. “Some examples of what we are considering include more program-specific targeting recruiting, like for nursing or engineering, and looking into offering other activities, such as a soccer club.”
Now I will agree that the program specific recruiting is not a bad idea, but shouldn’t they have been doing this all along? The part that makes me want to run headfirst into a wall is when he says that he is looking to replace the football program with other activities, not even other sports teams just activities, such as a soccer club. Seriously? Do you really think that you are going to convince someone to come to your college because you have some fun “activities” for them to do. Including a soccer club. A soccer club that will probably do nothing more than what these potential students can do already, play in the local community leagues. Newsflash! These kids don’t need to pay the tuition and come to school at HCC to be involved in a Soccer club! What other activities do they have in mind? How about a internet blogging club, that should get them flooding to HCC.
The public meeting was held this afternoon at the college and the fate of the program is probably being decided right now, so I guess it is just a matter of wait and see. But as a former football player and graduate of HCC, this news is very upsetting. There are a few people at that school that are top notch instructors and top notch people. They care about their students and do everything they can to see them succeed, but they are only allowed to do as much as their leader lets them. In my opinion, it’s time for a new leader because this one has done nothing but create a mess and then proceed to attempt to blame and punish everyone else for his mistakes. This makes the football program look bad, the school look bad, but more importantly it makes the members of every HCC football team in the last 5 years look bad. Sure, sometimes there are just some lazy students out there that could care less about anything other than playing ball, but isn’t that why the college is supposed to have standards for the players? So that the lazy students who aren’t willing to even try and don’t want to be in school in the first place are able to be separated from those that really do work hard to be there.