Associate A.D. Kenny Mossman provides his thoughts in his online column.
Entry No. 38 | September 27, 2007
There are college student-athletes
that carry themselves as prima donnas and behave as
though they have some sense of entitlement. In fact,
there are people in nearly every walk of life that
could be characterized that way.
It should be noted, however, that when it comes
to student-athletes, most are a lot more like run-of-the-mill
college students than they are prima donnas. They like
to eat pizza, hang out with friends and, on occasion,
That holds true even for those that participate
in the high-profile sports. Some will always see an
athlete as larger than life, but very few of those
athletes see themselves that way.
I've watched the vast majority of them sign
their letters of intent far away from television cameras,
come to school nervous at the prospect of being away
from home, be overwhelmed by the enormity of it all
and relieved when a hand of reassurance pats their
They do not reside in athlete-only quarters and
they don't eat steak and caviar. Now that's
not to say they're deprived. They most certainly
receive a scholarship and they work with tutors, something
that seems a fair trade-off for the hours of practice,
competition and community service. The locker room
facilities are nice and the travel is wonderful.
Thing is, none of them really asked for that nice
stuff. The trappings have been our idea, not theirs.
If every school in the country traveled on school buses
and served bologna, that would be the norm and I doubt
that you'd hear much from the athletes, especially
if we had never indoctrinated them to a more upscale
Do they like the nice stuff? Sure they do; we all
would, but they never really lobbied for it. They have
been passengers on the road to college athletics escalation,
not the drivers.
What's the point of all this? To say that
college athletes should not be subjected to the media's
venom and personal attacks unless their off-the-field
actions dictate such. Million dollar coaches and administrators
understand that big contracts also carry a ton more
scrutiny and a farewell to privacy.
A letter of intent should not invite those same
I heard it said the other day that if an athlete
is going to enjoy being a five-star recruit then he
better be prepared for a media that will question his
every move. Come again? Did he ask to be a five-star
recruit? Did he hang that label on himself?
College athletes have been transformed into big-time
celebrities. I contend that very few of them did the
transforming. Public interest, much of which is heightened
by the media, is responsible for a lot of it and so
is the system, yes the colleges themselves have advanced
that thinking too, that capitalizes on that interest.
Those causes are topics for a different debate.
In the meantime, the athletes should be spared for
the most part. They signed on for an education and
to play a sport, not the criticism and the shame, and
I fail to see how simply pursuing the former somehow
justifies the latter.
an inside perspective from the University of Oklahoma
Athletics Department on the latest Sooner sports topics.
Associate Athletics Director for Communications Kenny
Mossman provides his thoughts in his online column