COLLEGE

Two-Thirds Of Americans Think Many Colleges Put Too Much Focus On Sports: Poll

Connecticut celebrates with the championship trophy after beating Kentucky 60-54 at the NCAA Final Four tournament college ba
Connecticut celebrates with the championship trophy after beating Kentucky 60-54 at the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Two-thirds of Americans think colleges and universities with big-time sports programs place too much emphasis on athletics over academics, a new Monmouth University Poll found.

As the national college football championship approaches and NCAA basketball starts heating up, this apparent emphasis will be even more pronounced. Yet public opinion is mixed about whether the NCAA is to blame for stressing athletics over academics.

Among schools with sports teams but no major program, just 38 percent of those polled thought there was an overemphasis on athletics. Half of respondents thought these schools were able to strike an appropriate balance between academics and athletics.

"We as educators have a responsibility to prepare each student for the future," said Monmouth University President Paul R. Brown in the poll report. "For all but a tiny few, that means ensuring that we put the emphasis on the ‘student’ part of the student-athlete."

The Monmouth Poll also asked about the role of the NCAA in influencing a school's balance between athletics and academics. Overall, public opinion was split -- 39 percent said the NCAA does a good job encouraging proper balance, while 42 percent said it does a bad job.

However, among college graduates, just 29 percent said the NCAA does a good job, while 53 percent said it does a bad job promoting an athletic and academic balance.

But three-quarters of people agreed that the mass attention that high-profile college sports programs get influences other schools to "put more emphasis than they should" on their own athletics programs over academics.

Indeed, there is a sizable amount of attention to be gained from high-profile athletics.

On Jan. 12, Ohio State University and the University of Oregon will meet in the first College Football Playoff National Championship game. The Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl games leading up to the finals brought in 28.2 and 28.3 million viewers, respectively. Meanwhile, NCAA's March Madness attracts millions of viewers throughout the month.

But the pressure to build up an athletic program can push administrators to favor athleticism over academic ability. The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is still reeling from the revelation of nearly two decades of academic fraud perpetuated by school officials for athletes.

HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

  • 17. University of Texas - Austin
    Wikimedia Commons
  • 14. University of Washington
    (Tied for fourteenth)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    (Tied for fourteenth)
  • 14. University of Florida
    (Tied for fourteenth)
    Wikimedia Commons
    (Tied for fourteenth)
  • 14. Pennsylvania State University
    (Tied for fourteenth)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    (Tied for fourteenth)
  • 13. University of Wisconsin - Madison
    Mike McGinnis via Getty Images
  • 11. University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign
    (Tied for eleventh)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    (Tied for eleventh)
  • 11. University of California - Irvine
    (Tied for eleventh)
    Wikimedia Commons
    (Tied for eleventh)
  • 10. University of California - Santa Barbara
    beltz6/Flickr
  • 9. University of California - Davis
    Wikimedia Commons
  • 8. University of California - San Diego
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • 7. Georgia Institute of Technology
    Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • 6. College of William and Mary
  • 5. University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
    Replay Photos via Getty Images
  • 4. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • 2. University of Virginia
    (Tied for second)
    Wikimedia Commons
    (Tied for second)
  • 2. University of California - Los Angeles
    (Tied for second)
    aimintang via Getty Images
    (Tied for second)
  • 1. University of California - Berkeley
    Feargus Cooney via Getty Images
CONVERSATIONS