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Jan Kemp

June 19, 2011

raw material – “Now, you talk about [how] these kids are not taught in high school. They aren’t. We try to teach them here, but there is no way to do it. The majority of these kids are black that are coming in, and it kind of rips in at me at the insides, and I take it very, very personal. I know for a fact that these kids would not be here if it were not for their utility to the institution. There is no real sound academic reason for their being here other than to be utilized to produce income. They are used as a kind of raw material in the production of some goods to be sold…and they get nothing in return….” (This Case Was One For The Books).

she shed light – For everyone who cares about maintaining education’s fundamental role within the pseudo-professional world of college athletics, Kemp is a hero. For every athlete who has been helped toward a degree by enhanced academic support, Kemp is a hero. And for everyone who ever stood on principle in the face of institutional backlash, Kemp is a hero. Before she shed light in the early 1980s on Georgia’s preferential treatment for academically unprepared athletes (including grade changes in remedial courses), there was no such thing as national academic standards for freshman eligibility. There were no academic reporting forms documenting what kind of students schools were bringing in to play sports, or how many graduated, or how many maintained satisfactory progress toward a degree. There were no major financial commitments to helping jocks succeed in the classroom — no state-of-the-art academic centers, and very few fully funded academic support staffs. If schools didn’t care whether their athletes got an education, nobody was there to call them on it. Until Kemp did (Heroism of Jan Kemp changed face of college football).

travails – Although Dr. Kemp was ultimately vindicated, she said she suffered emotional turmoil from the dispute and twice attempted suicide in 1982. Notwithstanding her travails, she made her point. “All over the country, athletes are used to produce revenue,” she told The New York Times a month after the trial. “I’ve seen what happens when the lights dim and the crowd fades. They’re left with nothing. I want that stopped.” (Jan Kemp Dies at 59; Exposed Fraud in Grades of Players).

Jan Kemp (1949 – December 4, 2008) was an American academic and English tutor who exposed the bias in passing college football players and filed a lawsuit against the University of Georgia. Born in Griffin, Georgia, Kemp earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a doctorate in English education. She began teaching at the University of Georgia in 1978. In 1981 Kemp was one of the teachers who complained claiming that Georgia officials had intervened allowing nine college football players to pass a remedial English course, allowing them to play against Pittsburgh in the Sugar Bowl. Kemp was demoted in 1982 and dismissed one year later. She then filed a lawsuit claiming she had been fired due to her complaints about the passing of players. During the time after she was dismissed Kemp tried to commit suicide twice. The University defended its actions saying that Kemp was dismissed for “disruptive conduct and for failure to conduct adequate scholarly research.” The jury found the University guilty for the illegal dismissal of Dr. Kemp and she was awarded $2.5 Million, which was later reduced to $1.08 Million. Kemp was reinstated and University President Dr. Fred C. Davison resigned. After the trial Kemp spoke to The New York Times, saying, “All over the country, athletes are used to produce revenue. I’ve seen what happens when the lights dim and the crowd fades. They’re left with nothing. I want that stopped.” Kemp retired from teaching in 1990 and was named a hero of the 1980’s by People magazine. Kemp died on December 4, 2008, at the age of 59. Her son stated that she had died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. She is survived by her son and daughter (Wikepedia).

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