Pro Athletes — former Student Athletes?

Professional / Student Athletes

Are the professional athletes who play for our NFL teams (and other professional sports) really former student athletes or did they just attend school on dollars paid by others, including taxpayers and other students?

What kind of an education did, and do, these players actually get? What do they learn beside how to be better athletes? Do they attend the same classes other students attend, or do they attend classes especially set up for student athletes?

Many of them never graduate.

Los Angeles is currently in the hunt for an NFL franchise to call its own. Personally, I think our two current “professional” football teams are sufficient, but what do I know? In the running are three teams which used to call Los Angeles home: the San Diego Chargers, the Oakland Raiders and the Saint Louis Rams. Why we would want any of these back again is beyond me.

I ventured to the San Diego Chargers website and looked to see if I could find out anything about the education their players received while in college. After all, if you had a team composed entirely, or almost entirely, of college graduates, wouldn’t you want to brag about it?

The only place I could find any information about the education of the people in the Charger organization was their Media Guide. As you might expect those in charge of the organization and its finances were highly educated. The players . . . not so much.

Following is a list of coaches and players and their college majors and degrees. I may have missed a few but the list below contains the information I found while looking at the Media Guide rather than watching football.

Maybe you’ll come to the same conclusion about “student” athletes I did.

San Diego Chargers

General Manager — Tom Telesco — John Carrol University, 1995, degree in business management

Head Coach — Mike McCoy — University of Utah “graduated”

Asst — John Pagano — Mesa State, degree in business marketing

Asst — Frank Reich — Maryland, graduation and degree not mentioned

Asst — Kevin Spencer — He earned his bachelor’s degree from Springfield College and a Master’s from Cortland State.

Asst — Joe D’Alessandris — Bachelor and Masters from Western Carolina University

Asst — Fred Graves — Utah, degree in business

Asst — Don Johnson — Butler Community College and Jersey City State, no degree mentioned

Asst — Kent Johnston — graduated from Stephen F. Austin University and he earned a master’s in physical education from Alabama

Asst — Pete Metzelaars — Wabash College, degree in economics

Asst — Ron Milus — University of Washington, graduation and degree not mentioned

Asst — Mike Nolan — University of Oregon, graduation and degree not mentioned, “Nolan began his coaching career in 1981 as a graduate assistant at Oregon.”

Asst — Nick Sirianni — Mount Union, graduation and degree not mentioned

Asst — Ollie Wilson — Springfield College, BA, MA in physical education

Asst — Craig Aukerman — University of Findlay, degree in elementary education

Asst — Andrew Dees — Syracuse, degree in child and family studies

Asst — Bobby King — UTEP, graduation and degree not mentioned

Asst — Rick Lyle — Missouri, degree in parks, recreation and tourism

Asst — Greg Williams — North Carolina, degree in sociology

Asst — Shane Steichen — UNLV, degree in journalism and media studies

Asst — Chris Shula — bachelor degree from Miami of Ohio and masters in education from Oklahoma

Asst — Mark Ridgley — Pittsburgh, degree in economics, masters in education from Central Michigan

Players —

Jahleel Addae — Central Michigan, major/degree not mentioned

Keenan Allen — University of California, African-American studies major, degree not mentioned

Jerry Attaochu — Georgia Tech, science, technology and culture major, degree not mentioned

Joe Barksdale — LSU, general studies major, degree not mentioned

Donald Brown — Connecticut, exercise science degree

Donald Butler — Washington, construction management and business major, degree not mentioned

Ryan Carrethers — Arkansas State, interdisciplinary studies degree

Kellen Clemens — Oregon, business administration degree

Kavell Conner — Clemson, sociology degree

Richard Crawford — SMU, major and degree not mentioned

Chris Davis — Auburn, public administration degree

Greg Ducre — Washington, sociology major, degree not mentioned

King Dunlap — Auburn, adult education degree

Brandon Flowers — Virginia Tech, sociology major, degree not mentioned

Malcom Floyd — Wyoming, health sciences major, degree not mentioned

D. J. Fluker — Alabama, health studies degree

Orlando Franklin — Miami, psychology degree

Antonio Gates — Kent State, general studies major, degree not mentioned

Ladarius Green — Louisiana-Lafayette, degree in finance

Chris Hairston — Clemson, management major, degree not mentioned

Melvin Ingram — South Carolina, degree in African-American studies

Dontrelle Inman — Virginia, digital art major, degree not mentioned

David Johnson — Arkansas State, degree in physical therapy

Stevie Johnson — Kentucky, sociology major, degree not mentioned

Jacoby Jones — Lane College, Tenn., interdisciplinary studies major, degree not mentioned

Cordarro Law — coaching education major, degree not mentioned

Sean Lissemore — William & Mary, kinesiology major, degree not mentioned

Corey Liuget — Illinois, sociology major, degree not mentioned

Ricardo Mathews — Cincinnati, criminal justice major, degree not mentioned

Kyle Miller — Mount Union, health and physical education major, degree not mentioned

Nick Novak — Maryland, degree in kinesiology

Branden Oliver — Buffalo, completed last two classes for a degree in sociology

Tenny Palepoi — Utah, degree in sociology

David Paulson — Oregon, business major, degree not mentioned

Austin Pettis — Boise State, communications major, degree not mentioned

John Phillips — Virginia — degree in sociology

Kendall Reyes — Connecticut, degree in communications

Philip Rivers — North Carolina State, degree in business

Patrick Robinson — Florida State, social science major, degree not mentioned

Trevor Robinson — Notre Dame, management/consulting major, degree not mentioned

Lowell Rose — Tulsa, communications major, degree not mentioned

Mike Scifres — Western Illinois, communications and broadcasting degree

Brad Sorensen — Southern Utah, economics major, degree not mentioned

Damion Square — Alabama, major and degree not mentioned

Darrell Stuckey — Kansas, degree in communications

Manti Te’o — Notre Dame, graphic design degree

Johnnie Troutman — Penn State, African and African-American studies degree

Mitch Unrein — Wyoming, criminal justice degree

Jason Verrett — Texas Christian, sports broadcasting major, degree not mentioned

Chris Watt — Notre Dame, marketing degree

Eric Weddle — Utah, special education major, degree not mentioned

Kenny Wiggins — Fresno State, communications major, degree not mentioned

Steve Williams — California, sociology major, degree not mentioned

Tourek Williams — Florida International, sport and fitness major, degree not mentioned

Jimmy Wilson — Montana, business major, degree not mentioned

Mike Windt — Cincinnati, degree in psychology

Danny Woodhead — Chadron State, math education major, degree not mentioned

Melvin Gordon — Wisconsin, life science communications major, degree not mentioned

Denzel Perryman — Miami, Sociology major, degree not mentioned

Craig Mager — Texas State, physical therapy degree

Kyle Emanuel — North Dakota State, degree in construction management

Darius Philon — Arkansas, enrolled in college of arts and science, degree not mentioned


The list goes on, but I got tired after the sixty or so above. I may have spelled a name or two incorrectly or missed a degree or two, but on the whole I believe the data is correct–at least, as it was laid out in the Media Guide.

I realize that in today’s world we treat entertainers, and professional athletes are only entertainers, in a manner that is different from how we treat others. I do not, however, believe that we should give them or their organizations a free ride. If they go to tax-supported schools, they should take real classes designed to give them a real education–in something other than the sport they wish to play. College should not be a taxpayer supported minor league for the NFL or the NBA.

They should get an education that will prepare them for life, not just a couple of good years in the professional leagues before they are worn out and tossed away.

Perhaps this article would be instructive–The cost of a career: NFL players and bankruptcy


Student Athletes

We arrived home just a minute prior to 5 pm last Saturday. I watched portions of both the USC and UCLA games that evening. On Sunday I also watched portions of several football games, along with some soccer.

While watching the Sunday NFL games, I again noted that sometimes the players introduced themselves and included the names of their universities (although sometimes they give their high schools or their college football teams–Miami Hurricanes, for example). Once I even watched a player give the name of his elementary school.

Something is missing: these players–former student-athletes–never give either their year of graduation nor the name of the degree they earned at their university/college. They seem to be proud to announce that they were athletes but not that they were students.

Are they not proud of their academic achievements as well as their athletic prowess? After all, they spent years attending classes, studying, taking exams and writing essays. Or did they?

Could it be that the term student-athlete, at least as applied to major college/university money-sport athletes (football and basketball), is just a sham?

Most of these schools are tax supported, public institutions. Our tax dollars help support these players, their scholarships, coaches and teams. Is our money really being used to educate them or is it being used to support non-student athletes in a minor league system reminiscent of that of Major League Baseball but at public expense?

I wonder if you have come to the same conclusion that I have? Hmmmm . . . . .

Hey! How about when the players introduce themselves on national television, we have them also give the year of their graduation and the degree(s) they earned? We could also have it printed in the newspapers next to the rosters in the Sports sections and in the programs sold at the stadiums. They could also be prominently displayed on the teams’ websites. Great publicity for the universities and colleges.

Or is it? Perhaps, it is all just a sham, a self-delusion we perpetrate on ourselves as a society hungry for entertainment, bread and circuses.


On another note.

Last week a high school football player died after playing in his weekly game–football is not just a contact sport. Football, like ice hockey, is a collision sport. People get hit–hard. There are concussions, sprains, broken bones, torn ligaments and other injuries in every game. Some of these injuries are career ending, and others, like those suffered by Jim Otto, make for a painful and debilitating retirement.

I believe I have a partial solution to the problem. It may seem nonsensical, but I believe that it could cut down the severity of the injuries by reducing the severity of the collisions between players.

Let’s get rid of helmets. Right off, it’s going to get rid of spearing. Are these players really going to hit each other as hard as they do with no protective headgear.

For younger players, let’s get rid of pro football style uniforms, padding and armor and go back to flag football for all those too young to really understand the long-term (as well as short-term) dangers they face. Let’s not allow parents and coaches to fulfill their own fantasies by having five-year-olds play like professionals (and get goaded and cursed into NFL style violence).

If you don’t agree with the above paragraph, how about going and watching (and listening to) some of the practices, as well as the games these young kids play. I watched enough of them at Kelly Stadium in Orange, CA in the hours before working OUSD high school games as public address announcer and message board operator for twenty-five years.

Feel free to disagree with any, or all, of the above; you won’t hurt my feelings. But, if you would, please, read, watch and listen to the stories in our media about injuries suffered by those who play this violent sport. It is one thing for an adult to make a decision to play this game and quite another for a child to do so. Pleasing a parent or emulating a hero are powerful draws for a five-year-old or a teenager.

The following article appeared in the Minneapolis StarTribune on September 10, 2015, written by Patrick Reusse.

Is football’s expiration date closer than you think?

High School Football

I get paid to watch football games – high school football games.

High School Football - VP Band HalftimeI work in Orange, California as a public address announcer and message board operator. It is work I have been doing for more than twenty-five years.

While I was teaching at Yorba Junior High, we had ninth grade, essentially high school freshman, sports. There was a sideline platform that we used to announce both football games and track meets. Originally Norm did the announcing and I picked up from him. It was fun.

The gentleman who had been doing the announcing at the district stadium retired and it was decided to hold auditions for a replacement. I gave it a try. High School Football - VP coming on to the fieldThe audition consisted of calling several plays of a football game from a taped game on television. I don’t know how many people tried for the job but it came down to two people, Fred and I. The district couldn’t decide between us and we both got part of the job. Each of us was to do the announcing for two of the high schools.

There have been changes over the decades but I do the announcing for Orange and Canyon; Bob announces for El Modena and Bill announces for Villa Park. We cover for each other when one of us cannot make a game. It seemed that every year my Back-to-School Night fell on a Thursday game night; my principal was under the impression that B-2-S Night was more important than football so Bill covered for me.

Years ago we installed a new scoreboard with a message line. We’d put in announcements, upcoming games, penalties and cheers. It was a separate job from timing and announcing. Marv started the Message Board job and I took over from him on nights I was not announcing. Soon I was doing both announcing and operating the message board (two paychecks). So between the two jobs I was seeing twenty plus high school football games each year and getting paid for it.

High School Football - VP running playThere were years when things went well and we went to the CIF playoffs and years when teams were winless. I saw my little seventh graders grow into young men who were half a foot or more taller and who weighed one hundred pounds more than me. And I saw little girls grow into young women leading cheers and doing stunts on the sidelines.

One of my boys, Aaron, became a teacher and football coach. He brought his team to play one of ours and told me that I was the reason he became a teacher. I hadn’t realized who he was until I heard his voice and the picture in my mind was as he was so many years before in my woodshop class.

High School Football - VP running playOnly one of our four teams made the playoffs this season – the Villa Park Spartans (Century League, Southwest Division). Last night they defeated the Newport Harbor Sailors in a come from behind victory 26 to 21 ( In the third round (semi-finals) they will face Tustin at Tustin (Go Spartans), so I’ve worked my last game for the year.

Next game: August 2013. Paid to watch football, who’da thunk it!