The Norman Transcript


March 25, 2014

Lower degree of difficulty

NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma is one of three major schools featured in a segment of “HBO Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” that airs at 9 p.m. tonight. The Transcript received an advanced copy of it on Monday.

The segment titled “Gaming the System” focuses on the academic advising centers created since the NCAA instituted the Advanced Progress Rate in 2004 as a way to elevate athletes’ graduation rates and punish schools with postseason bans that fail to comply.

The crux of the HBO segment, which it says came after a six-month investigation, is athletes are pushed into simple majors in order to guarantee adequate APR scores for the schools.

Former OU associate athletic director Gerald Gurney and former offensive tackle Eric Mensik were both interviewed by HBO’s Bernard Goldberg for the story.

OU is one of the vast majority of Division I schools that offer a degree in multidisciplinary studies. That degree path is common among the Sooners’ football and men’s basketball team as well as athletes in other sports.

According to OU’s College of Arts and Sciences website, the degree “provides students the unique opportunity to design an innovative major tailored to their academic or professional interests.”

Mensik, who now lives in the Houston area, received a multidisciplinary studies degree in 2010, but told HBO it hasn’t helped him in the job market.

“It’s a football degree, yeah,” he said.

Gurney was the head of OU’s academic services for athletes from 1999-2011. He has been an outspoken critic of the current system, which he believes allows athletes to graduate without the critical thinking and job skills necessary for the job market.

“When you sign a national letter of intent, the university is making a contract with the athlete. They are saying we will not pay you as a professional, but they will educate you. That’s where I think we across the nation fall far short,” Gurney told HBO.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • 498415327SB20543_Sky_Shock How Paris got her groove back

    TULSA — It looked like it came easily to Courtney Paris. The minute she stepped foot on the campus at the University of Oklahoma in 2005, it seemed she was already an All-American and destroying the competition in the Big 12 and across the ...

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sooners will have to do the right thing eventually

    Don’t read anything into the non-suspension suspension Oklahoma leveled at true freshman running back Joe Mixon Wednesday....

    July 31, 2014

  • In this case, Sooner fans can rest easy

    OKLAHOMA CITY — The Sooner Caravan ended its summer run at the Jim Thorpe Museum and Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame Wednesday night. OU coach Bob Stoops did not take questions, but one of the major topics was the $370 million renovation to ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Three Tigers competing for quarterback

    While some teams have had questions surrounding the quarterback position in recent years, Norman High has seen relative stability. Thanks to a three-year run by Zach Long followed up by Jakcob Dean’s ascendance last season, the Tigers ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Indians trade Justin Masterson to Cardinals

    CLEVELAND — The Indians had little choice but to give up Justin Masterson. The trade doesn’t mean they’re going to surrender the season....

    July 31, 2014

  • Cowboys sign tackle Smith to 8-year extension

    OXNARD, Calif. — Tyron Smith has a new contract that will probably make him the most important blocker for the next Dallas quarterback after Tony Romo....

    July 31, 2014

  • Quarterback questions abound with big stars gone from SEC offenses

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Quarterback battles and signal-caller questions abound in the Southeastern Conference going into preseason camps around the league. Big names, not so much....

    July 31, 2014

  • Jones says Brent out of rehab, NFL question next

    OXNARD, Calif. — Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says former defensive tackle Josh Brent is out of rehabilitation and could have his future with the NFL resolved before the team leaves training camp in California in two weeks....

    July 31, 2014

  • Ives to crew chief for Dale Jr. in 2015

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There was no shortage of candidates to replace Steve Letarte as Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s crew chief The list of applicants was long, but Hendrick Motorsports has always liked to groom its own talent. So the organization ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Gustafson wants Gordon’s team focused on Chase

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jeff Gordon viewed his Brickyard 400 win as a turning point for his race team. Confidence had been building with every strong run, but his victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway pushed his crew to another level. It was ...

    July 31, 2014