In an essay to Boilermakers blog Hammer & Rails earlier this week, former Purdue safety Albert Evans shares details of his college experience trying to juggle football and an education.
According to Evans, he entered the college scene with aspirations to study engineering or athletic training — however, officials within the Purdue athletic department told him neither option would fit into the practice schedule, so he ended up pursuing his third choice, health and fitness.
In his essay (full text available from The Comeback) Evans writes, “When I was 10 years old, I wrote an article for the local newspaper that asked me what school I wanted to go to and what I wanted to study. I said Purdue University in their school of Engineering.
“I didn’t know that one day I would actually be able to attend Purdue on an athletic scholarship. But I wouldn’t be able to go for Engineering. Neither would I be able to go for Athletic Training, my second choice, which I wanted to use to create a path into Physical Therapy School.
“I was told that the Engineering caseload and class schedule would not work, especially if I had dreams of playing. I was told I would not be able to receive my hours for Athletic Training because they were mostly during football season and spring practice. At that point, I was on my third choice which wasn’t even a choice.”
Evans goes on to say, “I was literally just there to play football. Having two choices of my own was more than a lot of my teammates and friends at other schools could say as they were left undecided and thrown into General Studies, Communications or Organizational Leadership and Supervision.”
Evans even went so far as to question the value of a diploma without a “true education,” noting that many of his friends and teammates ended up with a degree they didn’t want and didn’t know what to do with, even after paying for it through time, effort and mental pressure.
This is not the first time a player has come forward with a similar story, posing tough questions about how student-athletes are treated and whether or not they really hold the position of a student so much as that of an employee — but perhaps the toughest question Evans poses is directed to himself: “Was my mind and body worth a free degree?”