This might seem like an odd place to talk about this, as it has nothing to do with Ohio State or the Big Ten or Brady Hoke’s waistline. This is way more important than those things. This is about kids–young athletes who just want a chance to make it in college football, an entity that has become an enormous star-making, money-printing machine powered by the passion of students, alumni, and fans.
This is about terrible people who exploit that passion, who take advantage of those kids, who make a mockery of the sport we love.
First and foremost, read this: Are There Two Fake Schools Operating On The Periphery of CFB? This was posted by reddit user /u/Honestly_ to /r/cfb on Friday. Many of you have probably seen it, but for those of you who haven’t, please go read it. You don’t have to read all the comments, but read through Honestly’s write-up and check out the links he provides. This is crazy, shocking stuff.
It’s important right now, because ESPN posted a story the same day about a new NCAA defensive record set by D-II Tusculum College. The school they set that record against is the College of Faith, one of the two schools Honestly investigated. Do we want the record books rewritten against programs that aren’t connected to legitimate institutes of higher learning?
While Honestly raises the possibility that the “student” athletes may be complicit in this (possibly getting paid since they wouldn’t be subject to any regulation,) I’m more inclined to think that’s not the case. The schools seem set up specifically to target the unsuspecting and naive, using religion as a hook in the way politicians and televangelists often do. The admissions requirements are non-existent. There are nonrefundable fees and “tuition deposits.” There are charges for adding and dropping courses. One the schedules implies that three of the games will be televised by ESPN, but this is pretty obviously a lie.
Davidson College played College of Faith on August 30th. The shutout victory was Davidson’s first win since November of 2012 and their first by more than eight points since September of 2011. Davidson plays in the Division I-FCS Pioneer League, the same conference that houses the University of Dayton’s football program. While it’s unlikely that an FBS school would schedule a game with one of these “colleges,” it’s concerning that they have managed to get on the field with a Div-I program, even one that’s not very good.
While I personally think these organizations should be thoroughly investigated and immediately shut down, I understand that’s probably unlikely. At the very least, I hope this serves as a cautionary tale for young athletes looking for an opportunity to show their stuff at the next level.