In Wednesday's Post (April 15), Georgetown University basketball coach, John Thompson, was interviewed about recruiting a 7-foot high school basketball star. Coach Thompson expects, this young man, with hard work, to make progress as a student, but the coach's main interest is his ability to play basketball.
One of my sons played basketball for the same high school team that produced Georgetown guard Eric Smith. As a result, we have followed Georgetown's record with more than a little interest. And, I believe, if you analyze what Coach Thompson said, he is clearly admitting to less than pure motives in recruiting this player, which we suspected anyway.
The truth of the matter is, however, that for all of us, participation in most important things involves mixed motives. We get married, for example, not only to raise a family but other gratifications. We seek job promotions, not only to expand our sphere of influence but for a bigger paycheck.
Elvin Hayes has been credited with the observation that when athletic scholarships are awarded, the college will most likely get whatever it is due from the bargain. In this light, then, the exploitation that is chargeable against big-time college athletic programs is in their failure to follow up and assume that student-athletes realize as much as they can from their academic opportunity. Thus, no great wrong has, necessarily, been committed, simply because athletes are initially recruited by coaches with less than completely pure motives.