Indianapolis, Indiana- The NCAA is facing criticism from college sports fans that foreign student athletes are coming to American college's primarily to get an education they couldn't afford otherwise. A recent NCAA survey found that most foreign students athletes did not plan to seek employment in professional sports and instead sought to go back home and become middle-class professionals.
Dukingham University in northern Virginia is an example. A powerhouse of their conference in football and decent in basketball, the team has 22% of foreign students on athletic scholarship. But unlike American students, who use college athletics as an unpaid minor league internship, the foreign students are more interested in the school's academic programs.
Abner Mobutu of Nigeria is one such athlete. He said he joined the Dukingham basketball team when he was offered a full ride scholarship and decided to study business.
"Without college athletics paying for it, I would likely be stuck in a technical school back home. Now, however, I can focus on my classes and get a decent job in a cubicle in Lagos. I have a bright future, indeed," Mobutu said.
Mobutu has turned down scouts seeking to draft him into the NBA, stating the odds of employment are too long.
The NCAA study found that the foreign students were not only ungrateful to their fans who want to see them play in the pros, but also that they would often use their full ride to leach more advanced and expensive degrees from the colleges.
"Unlike American athletes who take low cost degrees like Communication or General Studies, these foreign students are getting Pre-med, Engineering and Science degrees," said sports economist Alfred Jaspers, "The fees and book costs are up to a third more, even though the students will never make millions in the pros and give back vanity buildings to the university that gave them such opportunity."
Many fans cite foreign customs they say are hostile to the American collegiate athlete culture. Larry Belger, a former college player who never made it to the draft, spoke of it from his bar tending job at a Tampa area Hooters.
"In those countries work comes first and school is for education, not sports," Belger said, "It's a shame to know they have the talent I worked so hard but failed to achieve, but squander it to work for some company paying a stable wage and benefits."
Several students complained that in an age of rising tuition, college athletes are getting a free ride. Hector Carduzzi of the University of Illinois explained.
"I spent over $25,000 last year with tuition, books and the dorm, and all I see are a couple of coddled athletes from China sitting in the front row, asking questions of the professor instead of hitting the gym. I wanted players that feel the hunger of the majors, so I can tell my kids I went to school with a winner, not some engineer," Caruzzi said.
Sorority girl Felicia Baker also complained of the foreign athletes, saying it was a waste of her time sleeping around with someone with no future.
"I wasted two whole semesters dating a Eastern European guy I thought would make it in the NHL. Turns out all he cared about was becoming a doctor and going back to his home town to open a clinic. I can't waste my time with guys who don't have their priorities straight," Baker said.
Members of Congress have called on the US Department of Education in investigate the situation and make strict rules requiring all foreign student athletes to remain draft-eligible or face the possibility of deportation.