is a joke at most of these schools. There are two choices a school's athletic department has when running a football program. Hold players to the same academic standards as the rest of the student body, make them take the same classes, and provide them with help but not doing the work for them the way schools like Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke, Northwestern, and Vanderbilt do.
Or you can choose to take the easy path like many schools do. Players have classes they don't have to attend, take courses made for 4th graders, and have "tutors" that all but write their names on the paper. At UNC a player wrote a one paragraph essay for a final that was plagiarized from the first page of Rosa Parks' autobiography, and got a strong A- . Along with this, players are allowed to accept money from donors and get away with things the rest of the student body would not.
In reality, they aren't getting much education at all, let alone a college education. They miss out on many of the skills college is supposed to teach you like critical thinking and reading, improved writing, and the knowledge necessary to have a career in a professional field. They play football for four years while not paying much attention to school, their eyes set on playing in the NFL, a career that last 3 years on average. When football no longer becomes an option, they are left without many of the requisite abilities to succeed in non-athletic careers, and many of them end up returning to the rough roots they came from. Unfortunately as an 18 year old it's hard to see that much into the future, and without the influence of parents or coaches to push them towards a school with a good education, they fall into the same trap that many do, believing they will make millions playing 10 years in the pros.
Athletic directors and coaches know this. They know their players won't come out much better academically than they came in. They don't care though, it's about winning football games, because that's what brings in the money. That's what pays their 7 figure salaries. They all stand up in front of the press and say they care about producing high quality players both on and off the field, but their 55% graduation rates say differently. The fans don't care either, they are indifferent to what kind of people the players of their school are or become, as long as they're winning ball games down there in good ole' Alabama and Tallahassee. In essence, they are treating players the way any business treats a product. Use them for economic benefit until their four years are done, then discard them and move on to the next product. Sounds harsh, but unfortunately it's the truth.
This blatant lack of self respect and dignity by the AD's and coaches is stunning, as they drive home to their multi-million dollar houses, but it's the choice they make for success. That's why although Notre Dame is stumbling through yet another stretch of discouraging results on the football field, they still have some dignity in treating their players the way a student athlete should be treated. Don't be mistaken either, I fully believe Notre Dame can win a National Championship in this day and age and compete at a high level every single year with the right coach, I am not bringing up these things as excuses for why we aren't winning they way we should be. No school is perfect, and Notre Dame is right up their at the top in terms of revenue, but it is a rampant problem at schools across college football, and there appears to be no sign of change in sight.