Majoring in eligibility

NCAA rules have pushed more college athletes to earn a degree — but also pushed more into easy majors, reports USA Today. At some colleges, football, basketball and baseball players cluster in social sciences (Kansas State), sociology (USC), management (Georgia Tech) or communications (Boise State).

Some athletes say they have pursued — or have been steered to — degree programs that helped keep them eligible for sports but didn’t prepare them for post-sports careers.

“A major in eligibility, with a minor in beating the system,” says C. Keith Harrison, an associate professor at the University of Central Florida, where he is associate director of the Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports.

My husband has a nephew who gave up his football scholarship because he realized it was impossible to complete an academic major while practicing 40 hours a week.

About Joanne


  1. Athletes have been taking “gut” courses for years- why is this considered news?

  2. Roger Sweeny says:

    Many athletes are in “degree programs that helped keep them eligible for sports but didn’t prepare them for post-sports careers.”

    However, given that half of all college graduates take jobs that have nothing at all to do with their major, I think it is safe to say this is very common. In fact, I would suspect that very few college programs do much to directly prepare students for post-college careers.

  3. GT Engineer says:

    Even ‘Management’ at Georgia Tech is not an easy major. It is the major you change to just before you flunk out of Tech, entirely, (you take the ‘M-Train.’) Management at Tech is more difficult than most any other major at a ‘typical’ state university. Tech does not offer majors in Social Sciences, Education, etc.

  4. wahoofive says:

    Raise your hand if you thought heretofore that athletes were all math or engineering majors. Sure.

    This seems wildly overblown. It’s not like these majors were invented just to give athletes an easy time. They’re majors the colleges legitimately offer. If colleges offer fluff majors, there might be some legitimate criticism for that, but it doesn’t have anything to do with athletics.

    That said, though, learning how to beat the system might be a useful life skill, although in some cases maybe they’re not so much beating the system themselves as having someone else beat it for them.

  5. Catch Thirty-Three says:

    …and people wonder why I consider the phrase “student-athlete” so irritating, annoying, contradictory, and stupid.

  6. I have to agree with GT Engineer. Management may be one of the easier majors at Tech. But it still takes more than a little brainpower to get a degree in it.

  7. I had a full ride athletic scholarship at a Missouri Valley Conference school. I was very grateful for it and graduated not costing my parents anything and not owing a dime. But let me tell you that is the hardest work I have ever done. At least three hours of hard practice every day. Try to study after that. It is difficult. Myself, I dropped back from a science major to a science minor. Add to that all the travel time to and from contests. It is next to impossible to study on road trips.

    Sadly, some of the guys just weren’t up to it and flunked out or didn’t graduate. University level athletics is a harsh taskmaster and requires total commitment. And there is always some new fast gun looking at your scholarship. A very Darwinian place.


  8. I did serious work towards a major offered by the communications department at my university. I knew at the time that, for the rest of my life, most people would think the problem-solving, research, etc that I did would be crap compared to the memorization of bio and pre-med students….but I still die a little every time someone calls any major “easy”. 🙁