The Ohio State Department of Athletics has budgeted $400,000 to buy iPads for all of its student-athletes beginning in the fall, and some OSU students do not think the program is worth the money.
Of the estimated 1,100 student-athletes at OSU, 500 will have the new devices in the fall with the goal of everyone having the technology within the next two years, said David Graham, OSU assistant provost for student-athlete success.
“The use of iPads will allow us to find creative and innovative ways to enhance our tutoring and mentoring services for student-athletes,” Graham said in a press release. “The iPads will be preloaded with athletics department materials currently provided to student-athletes in paper or book form and will be available to students throughout their academic careers.”
The plan is part of OSU’s new Digital First initiative, which is partnering with Apple Inc., to integrate new technology and promote interactive digital learning in and out of the classroom.
Graham did not specify what version of the iPad the athletes would receive, but the newest version, a 16 GB, third-generation iPad, sells for $499. The athletics department is self-funded and does not have an exclusive deal with Apple.
Apple Inc., representatives did not respond for comment.
The iPads in the program will be loaned out to the student-athletes and returned at the end of every term.
“The student-scholastic experience at Ohio State increasingly embraces technological innovations,” said John Bruno, faculty athletics representative. “The state-of-the-art initiative of providing our student-athletes with iPads is consistent with this trend and, with the academic apps available, will allow our student-athletes to continue to keep pace with our student body.”
The announcement of the student-athlete iPad program comes on the same day OSU announced a 3.5 percent tuition increase for Fall Semester.
Some OSU students are expressing their contempt for the new program, saying the money could be better used elsewhere and that athletes already have a number of privileges normal students do not.
“Why buy iPads and give it to (athletes) when they could use that money for scholarships for other people who are less fortunate?” said Sadie Feick, a fourth-year in music education. “Student-athletes probably, most likely already have scholarships to be doing sports.”
Allison Placie, a fourth-year in psychology, agreed.
“I get that (student-athletes) have a lot going on, but so does everybody else,” Placie said. “Don’t they have enough perks already?”
Graham said the that OSU athletics is currently the only OSU department implementing an iPad program, but other university departments could adopt similar ones in the near future.
OSU’s athletic department honored 548 student-athletes who maintained a GPA of 3.0 or higher last week and finished second overall in last year’s Director’s Cup, which recognizes athletic success across 20 sports.
Other students said that given the student-athlete’s success, the new technology is well-deserved.
“I think that (athletes) deserve it because I actually live with an athlete, she’s on the rowing team. She has practice two times a day, or sometimes even three times a day, and she has to wake up at 5:30 every morning and she works really, really hard,” said Louisa Swaby, a second-year in animal sciences. “So I think if you’re working that hard and you’re still working hard in school, I think they deserve it.”
Patrick Cooley and Emma DeFilippo contributed to this story.