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Abstract

This study seeks to answer if academic clustering occurs in the SEC and if race and field value are significant indicators of this phenomena. The academic majors players select or are steered towards may lend credence to the claim that universities possess an avenue for fast tracking an athlete’s eligibility status. At stake in college football’s competitive market are complex streams of revenue ranging from television exposure and merchandise sales to increased student applications and alumni contributions. This market places enormous pressure on SEC football programs to not only keep pace with other programs within the conference, but more importantly, to increase market share by ensuring only elite athletes are recruited, signed, and developed into top performers for the conference. The on-the-field product, then, serves as a means for top programs to access lucrative revenue streams made available through college football’s popularity, marketability, and merchandising. The student-athlete becomes the lynch-pin driving this multi-billion dollar industry. Therefore, we asked the following questions: 1) Are SEC football players clustered into academic majors? 2) If clustering exists, does it differ according to race? 3) If clustering exists, does field value determine which players get clustered? Our findings, in which the majority of starters and key contributors were obtained from only a few majors, support the claim that Universities possess mechanisms that reinforce the systemic foreclosure of a student-athlete's educational freedom.

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