College admission scandal is not a nationwide epidemic

Matthew Simms
There's a big difference between NCAA Division I top schools and small college counterparts, writes Matthew Simms of the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association

All post-secondary institutions use athletics as a means to recruit and retain a unique subdivision of high school students, those motivated to make their selection on college based on their opportunity to compete. But there is a distinct division between NCAA Division I institutions at the top and their small college counterparts.

Of the 5,300 colleges and universities in the United States, roughly 39% have intercollegiate athletic programs. Of those 2,000+ schools, only  351 are Division I. That means even the Alabamas, Dukes and USCs of the world are outnumbered 5-to-1 by small colleges.

While Division I universities continue to elevate their admissions profile by way of the winning games, small colleges are left to the grind of recruiting students who either don’t meet the same athletic profile or who prefer smaller class sizes or a nontraditional education track.

Cleary University, a member of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) for almost a decade, has a traditional student population that is made up of 95% student-athletes. Small colleges don’t have the luxury of overemphasizing athletic talent in their selections process. Many of these institutions are keeping their doors open simply by attracting students who want to continue to play at the college level.

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While these smaller schools still want to win, their member institutions’ intercollegiate athletic programs are more focused on boosting their recruitment and retention — attracting students who otherwise would not attend their university.

The college admission scandal is not a nationwide epidemic, and not all colleges are overemphasizing athletic talent as a criteria. Before we point an accusatory finger at all colleges and universities, let us realize that there are alternatives to those with privileged athletic programs that focus more on athletic prowess than the merits of the admitted student.

Matthew Simms is executive director & CEO of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College admission scandal is not a nationwide epidemic