TIME College Sports

Meet the First Openly Transgender Swimmer to Compete in the NCAA

transgender harvard swimmer Schuyler Bailer
Marvin Joseph—The Washington Post/Getty Images Schuyler Bailer is the first openly transgender collegiate athlete.

Incoming Harvard freshman Schuyler Bailar will compete on the men's team after coming out as transgender

An incoming Harvard University freshman will become what is believed to be the first openly transgender student to compete as a swimmer in the NCAA.

Schuyler Bailar was initially recruited for the women’s team but was torn about his participation after coming out as a transgender man this year—until Bailar’s coach coordinated an offer from the university to join either the men’s team or the women’s team.

“It’s half terrifying and half exciting,” Bailar told the Associated Press. “I’m just kind of embracing it with open arms.”

Harvard men’s swimming coach Kevin Tyrrell said the rest of the team was immediately in favor of extending an invite to Bailar.

“Through high school I grew my hair out, I conformed, I dressed in the high heels to prom — and I was miserable,” Bailar said. “I did succeed in swimming because that was really my only outlet.”

[AP]

TIME Education

Why Student Athletes Continue To Fail

sports-trophies-books-shelves
Getty Images

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

The problem’s not the NCAA. It’s players’ expectations of their peers

Seventy-four college underclassmen have been declared eligible for the NFL’s upcoming draft, but Ohio State’s quarterback Cardale Jones won’t be among them. A few days after winning the national championship game in January, Jones shocked fans and football analysts by saying he wasn’t ready to go pro, that it was important for him to graduate from college first. What made the announcement all the more surprising, beyond the fact that Jones may never again be as desirable an NFL prospect as he is the year he won a national championship, was that his previous claim to fame was a notorious tweet posted two years ago in which he complained about the “college” part of being a college football player. He wrote that he’d gone to Ohio State to play football, not “to play school,” and that classes were pointless.

Jones now regrets and disavows that tweet. Earlier this month, he was tweeting that nothing is more important than education, under the hashtag “StudentBeforeAthlete.” It’s hard to know how sincere his attitude adjustment has been, or how sincere his initial dismissal of academics was. What is clear is that Jones and his conversion represent a messaging coup for his university and for the NCAA, which has maintained for decades that its primary goal is to help scholar-athletes receive an education that would prepare them for life beyond sports.

Despite the NCAA’s insistence that it is concerned about student athletes’ academic growth, it often feels as though “student” plays second fiddle to “athlete.” Indeed, on a typical day, a visitor to the NCAA homepage will be overwhelmed by the articles (and videos) about athletics but will not find a single article (or video) about the academic achievements of the athletes.

This also seems to hold true for many of the NCAA’s member schools. The University of North Carolina and Syracuse are just two of the most recent universities to be under the spotlight for academic scandals involving student athletes. UNC offered a “no show” class for student athletes (where students received grades for phantom classes that they didn’t attend), and Syracuse allowed academically ineligible athletes to compete. And while these cases are the ones currently grabbing headlines, they are hardly unique; The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that 20 additional schools are being investigated for academic fraud.

And what about the student athletes themselves? Student-athletes tend to take easier classes and get lower grades than non-athletes. This is not only true for schools from power conferences in big-money sports, it has been observed in Division III liberal arts colleges and Ivy League schools, neither of which even offer athletic scholarships.

It’s tempting to believe that student athletes care only about their sport, and not about their schoolwork, as many popular commentators have suggested – and as Ohio State’s Jones once tweeted — except that in the dozen years that I’ve been teaching in university settings, that hasn’t been my experience at all. I’ve taught hundreds of Division 1 student athletes at several different schools, and they have been among the hardest working students I’ve encountered. The student athletes I’ve worked with have viewed their sport as a complement to, not a replacement for, their studies.

My observations were hardly unique. One of my students, Josh Levine, ran a youth hockey clinic and was upset by the widespread perception that the students he worked with did not care about school. After several conversations about the issue, we decided that the only way to find out the truth was to run a study. And so we did, surveying 147 student athletes (including some still in high school) involved in various team sports from football and basketball to lacrosse and golf about how much both they and their teammates cared about sports and academics.”

Here’s what we found: When student athletes were asked how much they care about athletics, they rated their interest a healthy 8.5 on average, on a scale of 1 to 10. But when asked the value they place on academics, the result was higher than 9 on average. If anything, the average student athlete cares more about his studies than his sport. #StudentBeforeAthlete indeed.

So why do they underperform in their classes?

One possible and intriguing reason suggested by our study is that student athletes don’t think their teammates take academics as seriously as they do. When asked to assess how much their teammates cared about athletics, the athletes were close, guessing 8.8. However, when asked to evaluate how much their teammates cared about academics, those same athletes guessed only 7.8 – far below the 9+ average.

Why is this important? Because when an athlete thinks that the rest of the team doesn’t care about academics, that athlete tries to fit in by pretending not to care either. In a perverse form of peer pressure, Cardale Jones’s tweet about classes being worthless may be what student athletes tell each other in an effort to fit in, based on the mistaken belief that if they care about academics, they are in an uncool minority.

All of this creates a distressing and self-perpetuating cycle. Tight-knit student athletes will seek ways of fitting into a culture that they perceive as neglecting academics (by defaulting into majors of dubious merit and spending less time doing homework), knowing that their habits are observed by teammates. When their teammates observe those habits, it reaffirms the (false) conviction that caring about academics is an unfortunate aberration, best suppressed.

One of my co-authors on this project, Sara Etchison, has described this process particularly well: “There are student athletes who want to excel in the classroom, but think their teammates would judge them for it, so they study a little less, or take an easier major. And it turns out, that’s how virtually everyone on the team feels, but there’s never an opportunity to realize, ‘Oh wait, all of us really care about what’s happening on the academic side.’”

This is a phenomenon that psychologists call “pluralistic ignorance” – when private preferences differ from perceptions of group norms. It leads people to engage in public behaviors that align more with the perceived norms than with their true preferences. The tragedy is that the norms are false – in reality, everybody would be happier if they just behaved in line with their true preferences.

Pluralistic ignorance has also been shown to underlie the phenomenon of binge-drinking on campuses. A study conducted at Princeton University revealed that a majority of students who drink excessively did so not because they wanted to, but because they felt that was what their friends wanted to do. Once they all had a more accurate assessment of what the group norm was, the amount of alcohol consumed declined.

This suggests that helping student athletes do better in the classroom may be as simple as letting them know that their teammates care as much about academics as they do. Many of them care deeply about the education they are receiving, and should care, because financial success in professional sports will elude the vast majority of them.

As the NCAA and the media focus more attention on athletes’ academic performance, one of the best ways to improve the education of student athletes is to give them license to pursue their academic goals by making it clear that their teammates, and society as a whole, support them in their academic endeavors. For this to happen, we will need many more stars like Cardale Jones speaking out about the importance of education, instead of tweeting about the pointlessness of going to class.

Daniel Oppenheimer is a professor of psychology and marketing at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. He is the author of over 30 peer-reviewed journals, and several books, including Democracy Despite Itself: Why a System that Shouldn’t Work at All Works So Well. In addition to numerous awards for his teaching and research, he won the 2006 Ig Nobel science humor award. He wrote this for Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME portfolio

Meet America’s First Video Game Varsity Athletes

The newest route to college is through a video game

Correction appended, March 27, 2015

Parents who think that video games are an academic distraction, take heart: pounding on the controller can now help pay for college.

Last fall, Robert Morris University in Chicago became the first college in the US to make competitive gaming ­ or “e-sports” ­ a varsity sport, and offer athletic scholarships for players. “My parents were always telling me to get off the Xbox,” says Jonathan Lindahl, a freshman e-sports player at Robert Morris. “So I’m really rubbing it in their faces.”

At Robert Morris, video game scholarships can be worth up to half of tuition and housing, or $19,000. What’s more, since the NCAA doesn’t regulate e-sports, they’re not bound by the rules of amateurism. A couple of Robert Morris players, for example, recently played in a semi-pro tournament and each earned around $1,000. Want to get paid as a college athlete? Stay on the Xbox.

Robert Morris spent $100,000 ­and received help from video game sponsors ­ to retrofit a classroom into a full-fledged gaming hub with hi-tech monitors, headsets, and chairs. The players look a bit like fighter pilots, and play League of Legends, a five-on-five battle game popular among college students. The top Robert Morris team has qualified for Sweet 16 of the North American Collegiate Championship (NACC), which starts on March 28: traditional sports powers like Michigan, Georgia Tech, Texas A&M are also in the mix. The “Final Four” will be held in Los Angeles in early May. Each member of the winning team will receive $30,000 in scholarship money.

A sure sign that college video games are like traditional sports: one member of the Robert Morris squad, freshman Adrian Ma, 18. left the school in November to join a pro team. “The opportunity was too good to pass up,” says Ma. A second school, the University of Pikeville in Kentucky, will offer e-sports scholarships this fall. For gamers, March Madness has indeed arrived.

Read the full story, The Varsity Sport of the Virtual World, in the latest issue of TIME magazine and on TIME.com.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the name of the student in slide 9. His name is Zixing Jie.

TIME Baseball

Mo’ne Davis Says Student Dismissed for Tweet Deserves ‘Second Chance’

Mo'ne Davis, the first female pitcher to win a game in the Little League World Series and is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Good Morning America on March 10, 2015.
Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images Mo'ne Davis, the first female pitcher to win a game in the Little League World Series and is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, on 'Good Morning America' on March 10, 2015.

"Everyone makes mistakes"

Little League World Series star Mo’ne Davis asked Bloomsburg University to reinstate baseball player Joey Casselberry, who was dismissed from the team after writing an offensive tweet about the 13-year-old girl on Friday.

Davis and her coach, Alex Rice, emailed Bloomsburg president David L. Soltz to ask for Casselberry’s reinstatement, TMZ first reported. A spokesman from the school told BuzzFeed News that although it was impressed by Davis’ request, it was standing by its decision to dismiss Casselberry.

“Her request demonstrates the type of person she is, her level of maturity and the empathy that her family and coach teach her,” the spokesman said.

Davis also appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter to discuss the incident and her willingness to forgive Casselberry’s offenive remark.

“Everyone makes mistakes and everyone deserves a second chance,” Davis said. “I know he didn’t mean it in that type of way, and I know a lot of people get tired of seeing me on TV, but you kind of just gotta think about what you’re doing before you actually do it. I know right now, he’s really hurt and I know how hard he worked just to get to where he is right now. I was pretty hurt on my part, but I know he’s hurt even more.”

In the tweet, which was written on Friday and later deleted, Casselberry called Davis a disparaging name and also insulted the accomplishments of her team, Taney Youth Baseball Association of Philadelphia, in the 2014 Little League World Series.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

MONEY Sports

For College Football Championship, Ad Prices Soar While Ticket Prices Plummet

The NFC Wildcard Playoff Game between the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 4, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
Ronald Martinez—Getty Images AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, host of Monday's College Football Championship matchup of Ohio State versus Oregon.

Monday's Ohio State-Oregon college football championship is shaping up as a Super Bowl in terms of ad prices, hitting $1 million a pop. It's a different story, however, for ticket prices to the game.

With the price of 30-second spots in Monday night’s Ohio State-Oregon champion matchup on ESPN fetching up to $1 million, AdAge has begun wondering if the culmination of the first-ever college football playoffs amounts to a “New Super Bowl in the Making.”

Both of the playoff games that led to the championship—Ohio State vs. Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and Oregon vs. Florida State in the Rose Bowl—had better ratings than the 2011 BCS Championship game, which had held the record as the most-watched program on cable. Monday’s game is expected to trump them all. That’s why a recent Wall Street Journal story pointed out that, no matter which team is the eventual champion, ESPN is probably the biggest winner of all because it’s the network airing all of the playoff games.

“College football has always been in demand, but the playoffs have pushed it to another level,” the WSJ piece explained. Accordingly, ad prices for the game have soared to another level too. The asking price of 30-second commercials during Monday night’s game have ranged from $800,000 to a cool $1 million, 20% to 30% more than they were for the 2014 college football title game.

In terms of ad rates, the college football championship still has a ways to go to catch up with the Super Bowl, in which advertisers fork over $4 million (or more) for 30-second commercials. Prime-time ads during the March Madness NCAA Final Four basketball tournament can also be roughly 50% more than ads airing during this year’s college football championship.

But based on how much interest there’s been in the new playoff system thus far, and the way that Allstate’s series of ads airing during the games have been viewed as a huge win for the brand, college football is expected to close the gap in terms of ad prices. “I’m not sure if we’ll get to Super Bowl standards, but it will be similar to March Madness,” predicted Jim Andrews, senior vice president of the marketing consulting firm IEG, according to CNBC.

What’s somewhat surprising, however, is that soaring interest and ad prices for college football playoff games haven’t been matched with soaring prices to see the championship game in person. ScoreBig, an online marketplace for ticket sales, says that ticket prices for Monday’s game dropped 37% over a five-day span last week. Late last week, other ticket aggregators like TiqIQ were listing get-in prices to the game as low as $340.

Fans who waited until Monday can buy tickets to the game for less than half that price. As a Forbes post pointed out last week, the host venue for the championship, the Dallas-area AT&T Stadium—a.k.a., the Jerry Dome, home of the Cowboys—is designed to accommodate several thousand standing-room only viewers. Last Thursday, newly released SRO tickets went on sale for $200 apiece. As of Monday morning, the secondary market ticket site StubHub was listing general admission SRO tickets to the game for just $115.

TIME College Sports

Jameis Winston Hints at Returning to Florida State Next Season

Jameis Winston during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015 in Pasadena, California.
Jeff Gross—2015 Getty Images Jameis Winston during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015 in Pasadena, California.

He has two more seasons of eligibility

Florida State sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston made no commitments about his future or the NFL draft after losing in a College Football Playoff semifinal on Thursday, saying that he “isn’t focused on that at all.”

Winston was asked after Florida State’s 59-20 loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl about his future plans. He has two more seasons of eligibility, and many expect him to be a first-round pick if he enters the 2015 NFL draft.

The deadline to declare for the draft is Jan. 15.

“I’m looking forward to next season and playing baseball,” Winston said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “So I’m just trying to get better every day.”

Winston is a relief pitcher for the Seminoles baseball team and went 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA, seven saves and 31 strikeouts in 24 appearances last season.

Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, suffered his first defeat as a collegiate starter against Oregon, completing 29 of 45 passes for 348 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a lost fumble that was turned into a 58-yard touchdown return for Oregon.

He completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,907 yards, 25 touchdowns and 18 interceptions this season.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME College Sports

Chicago Judge Rejects $75 Million NCAA Settlement

"The court encourages the parties to continue their settlement discussions"

A Chicago judge on Wednesday rejected a $75 million settlement with the NCAA on player concussions, saying the funds allocated as part of the deal would potentially fall short and urging both parties to resume negotiations.

“The court encourages the parties to continue their settlement discussions … to address these concerns,” U.S. District Judge John Lee wrote in his 21-page opinion, the Associated Press reported.

Under the settlement proposal, $70 million would be allocated by the NCAA for concussion testing, with an additional $5 million for additional research.

Lee had expressed concern in an October hearing that the proposal covered non-contact sportspersons as well, and noted on Wednesday that head injuries for athletes like baseball and water polo players are not out of the realm of possibility. Their coverage under the settlement, as well as several other factors, made him unsure that the $70 million amount would be enough.

[AP]

TIME College Sports

Accuser’s Attorney: Jameis Winston Violated Confidentiality Instructions

Florida Florida St Football
John Raoux—AP Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston warms up prior to an NCAA college football game against Florida inTallahassee, Fla. on Nov. 29, 2014.

Winston's statement marked the first time he publicly gave his side of the story pertaining to the sexual assault allegations

The attorney for the woman who accused Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston of sexually assaulting her in 2012 alleges that Winston and his attorney have violated confidentiality instructions given by retired Florida State Supreme Court Chief Justice Major Harding.

Winston’s two-day hearing, which was heard by Harding, ended on Wednesday. The quarterback reportedly did not testify, but he did read a five-page statement denying the allegations against him. The statement was obtained by both ESPN and USA TODAY.

The woman’s attorney, John Clune, issued a statement on Thursday in response:

“It apparently took about one hour for Mr. Winston and his lawyer to violate Justice Harding’s confidentiality instructions by emailing out one of the exhibits to the media. Jameis Winston’s crude new recollection of events is as disgusting as it is implausible. He just keeps digging himself deeper. For now we will trust in the strength of our client’s repeated and consistent interviews. The time for Winston, [Chris] Casher, and [Ronald] Darby to fully explain this new story will come.”

Winston had the right to not answer any questions at the hearing. His teammates, Casher and Darby, reportedly refused to testify on Tuesday.

Winston’s statement marked the first time he publicly gave his side of the story pertaining to the sexual assault allegations. He had previously denied the allegations through his attorney.

The purpose of the two-day hearing was to determine if Winston violated up to four school student conduct codes.

Winston was accused of sexual assault in December 2012. In November 2013, the state’s attorney announced that it was investigating the accusation. The investigation was completed a month later, and no charges were filed. Authorities have been criticized for being slow to act on the woman’s claim. In October, a FOX Sports report alleged that university administrators and Tallahassee police took steps to “hide and then hinder” an investigation.

After the hearing, Winston’s lawyer, David Cornwell​, told ESPN there was no evidence in the hearing to suggest the quarterback did anything wrong, while Clune said he expects Winston to be found responsible for sexually assaulting his client.

Harding has up to 10 class or exam days to submit his decision, meaning a decision does not need to be made until January.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME College football

Michigan Fires Brady Hoke After 4 Seasons as Wolverines Head Coach

Michigan v Northwestern
David Banks—Getty Images Head coach Brady Hoke of the Michigan Wolverines watches his team warm up before a game against the Northwestern Wildcats on November 8, 2014 at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois.

A defensive-minded coach, Hoke failed to build a potent offense

College football’s all-time winningest program is in need of a new coach. Michigan fired Brady Hoke on Tuesday after four seasons in Ann Arbor. Hoke’s final season at Michigan included losses to rivals Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State as the Wolverines finished 5-7 (3-5 Big Ten) and fell short of bowl eligibility for the first time since 2009 and third time since 1974. The firing was first reported by Sam Webb and FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman. Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett held a press conference on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the news.

Hoke arrived at Michigan in 2011 after a two-year stint at San Diego State, where his Aztecs went 13-12, including 9-4 in his final season. San Diego State was 2-10 the year before Hoke arrived and hadn’t won nine games since 1971. Then Hoke’s debut Michigan team went 11-2, making him the only Wolverines coach since Fielding Yost to win at least 10 games in his first year at the helm. Michigan capped that campaign with a 23-20 win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.

But Hoke’s first season in Ann Arbor also proved to be his best. His program dropped to 8-5 in 2012, 7-6 in ’13 and 5-7 this fall. The Wolverines fell to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl after the ’12 season and lost to Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in December ’13. They also lost to rival Ohio State three straight times. Hoke went 12-12 in Big Ten play during his final three seasons.

“I met with coach Hoke today and informed him of my decision to make a change in the leadership of our football program,” Hackett said in a statement. “This was not an easy decision given the level of respect that I have for Brady. He has done a great job of molding these young men, making them accountable to their teammates, focusing them on success in the classroom and in the community. I wanted to make sure that Brady received adequate time to exhibit the results that would come from his effort and I believe that Brady and our coaching staff had enough time to produce those results and unfortunately they are not there. In the end, I feel that moving in a different direction is the right decision. I wish Brady and his family all the best in the future.”

“I feel very fortunate to have been an assistant and head coach at the University of Michigan,” Hoke said in a statement. “I will always support the university and this football program.”

A defensive-minded coach, Hoke failed to build a potent offense. This season the Wolverines finished 13th in the Big Ten in total offense (333.0 yards per game) and scoring offense (20.9 points per game). Hoke’s attack never flourished under quarterback Devin Gardner, who threw 31 touchdowns to 26 interceptions in two seasons as Michigan’s starter.

Hoke’s controversial handling of backup quarterback Shane Morris’ concussion in a 30-14 loss to Minnesota on Sept. 27 further prompted calls for his ouster. Hoke’s staff reinserted Morris into the game after one play, even though he exhibited concussion-like symptoms.

The biggest issue throughout Hoke’s tenure may have been an inability to develop talent. The coach made a strong first impression in his debut season with a roster full of players recruited by his predecessor, Rich Rodriguez. Michigan’s on-field product never met the hype of Hoke’s top-10 recruiting classes in 2012 and ‘13.

A proven ability to cultivate talent should be a priority for the Wolverines in their next coach, regardless of whether he is a Michigan Man. Hoke spent eight seasons (1995-2002) as a Michigan assistant, the last as associate head coach and defensive line coach. Yet hiring an outsider (Rodriguez) didn’t work, either.

SI.com’s Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans reported last month that Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, Minnesota’s Jerry Kill and ex-Rutgers coach Greg Schiano could all be candidates to replace Hoke. Former athletic director Dave Brandon resigned on Oct. 31, so interim AD Hackett will lead the search.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME College football

University of Alabama-Birmingham Officially Shuts Down Football Program

UAB Blazers v Arkansas Razorbacks
Wesley Hitt—Getty Images Head Coach Bill Clark of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers is seen with his team during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on October 25, 2014 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The "financial realities" it faces from an administrative standpoint made the football program unsustainable

The University of Alabama at Birmingham announced Tuesday that it has shut down its football program. Sports Illustrated’s Thayer Evans reported on Sunday that the announcement was expected some time this week.

In the press release announcing the decision, President Ray L. Watts said the “financial realities” it faces from an administrative standpoint made the football program unsustainable. The bowling and rifle programs will also be dropped in the 2014-15 academic year.

“The fiscal realities we face — both from an operating and a capital investment standpoint — are starker than ever and demand that we take decisive action for the greater good of the Athletic Department and UAB,” Watts said. “As we look at the evolving landscape of NCAA football, we see expenses only continuing to increase. When considering a model that best protects the financial future and prominence of the Athletic Department, football is simply not sustainable.”

Watts also announced that athletic director Brian Mackin has been reassigned from his position, at Mackin’s request. Mackin will fill the role of “the newly created position of special assistant for Athletics,” according to the release. Mackin will “assist student-athletes and coaches affected by the discontinuation of programs.” Mackin had been UAB’s athletic director since 2007.

“While Brian has been leading the strategic review process for the Athletic Department, working closely with our consultants to inform and guide their analysis, he does not wish to lead our newly constituted Athletic Department,” Watts said. “I respect his decision and thank him for his 12 years of service. In his new role, Brian has a great opportunity to make this transition easier for the affected athletes and coaches as they work to make the best decisions for their futures.”

UAB finished this season 6-6 under first-year coach Bill Clark. Clark took over a program already lacking financial support and one that hadn’t had a winning season since 2004.

UAB football players were told about the decision in a meeting with Watts on Tuesday.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

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