But most college athletes have much more quotidian concerns: locker rooms, academic tutors, dining, and, for one pole vaulter at the University of Nevada, birds. “Geese poop — everywhere in field site — slipping issues — tried to shovel”
The relationship between universities and their student-athletes can be complicated. They’re often getting different perks, benefits, and treatment than other students. But they also face very different responsibilities, long hours, and a schedule that can make playing a sport feel a lot like having two jobs.
The NCAA Division I manual
requires colleges to conduct exit interviews with “a sample” of departing athletes about their experiences.
Daniel Libit and Luke Cyphers highlighted some of what they’ve found so far in their newsletter
“With so little consistency, the athlete exit interview mandate presents a kind of Rorschach test for an institution’s commitment to athlete input. The interviews can show the priorities of administrators who run college sports programs, based on what they ask their athletes, how they ask it, who answers the questions, and how those answers are used.”
A couple of things that jumped out to us:
At Michigan State, still reeling from the Larry Nassar scandal, the exit interview survey struck The Intercollegiate as trivial:
“Of its 17 mostly generic questions, not one addressed sexual assault. In fact, arguably the most probing query on the list had to do with the athletic department’s end-of-the-season swag, specifically the “jacket, plaque blanket and ring.”
Colleges have no standard way of handling this exit-interview requirement. Some do it informally. Some when athletes request it. Some never create a paper trail. Others conduct extensive surveys, sometimes with outside vendors — though that presents its own questions:
“Real Recruit’s software analytics parcels a school’s athlete respondents into categories of “Promoters”, “Passives” and “Detractors.” This necessarily raises questions about the real purpose of the input.”
Many athletes have mostly great things to say about their experience. But the documents also show a good amount of griping—some of it about facilities or safety issues like that geese poop on the field, but much of it about the divides between teams with a lot of money and those without:
“The disparity in services offered based on the sports is just outrageous,” said one UNLV athlete. “I understand that there is income disparities between each sports but it is unacceptable to see some student-athletes get dry cleaning, multiple pairs of shoes, incredible facilities, state of the art locker rooms etc. when others have to learn to live with a WW2 bunker as their lockeroom [sic].”