NC State

Alabama relents, releases majors for football players

Two weeks ago, we reported how NC State had erroneously told a Bleacher Report correspondent that the majors football players are pursuing weren’t public record.

NCSU was one of two schools to tell Bleacher Report the majors weren’t public information. The other was one of the biggest dogs in college football, the University of Alabama, winner of three championships in the last five years.

According to the report, Alabama football spokesman Josh Maxson said “privacy laws” prevented the release of information. Nothing in federal law prevents the release of majors, so that would presumably mean a state law did. But there, in the same report, were the majors for Auburn University’s football team.

We asked about that discrepancy. Maxson said in an interview that Alabama has not reported the majors in its media guides for several years out of a concern for student privacy.

“We’ve been real careful about how much personal information we give out, just to protect our student athletes,” Maxson said.

He didn’t address whether the information was public or not, but he agreed to provide it. (He also apologized in an email to the Bleacher Report columnist, Justin Ferguson, for not providing it at his request.) Thursday, he sent a list of majors for the team. It shows the top four are Business, Exercise and Sport Science, Communications Studies and Criminal Justice, with 19, 17, 10 and 9 athletes respectively.

Why is this important? As we reported earlier, when athletes pursue the same major, something known as clustering, it raises questions whether they are taking the classes they need for an education, or being steered to easy (or in the case of UNC-Chapel Hill, fake) classes that help keep them eligible.

Alabama’s in-state rival Auburn is dealing with that question after The Wall Street Journal reported that a “small, unpopular” major was on the chopping block until the athletic department stepped in. It turned out the major was popular with athletes, including football players.