Kudos to the University of South Florida athletic department for its commonsense decision to spend $175,000 annually to provide each student-athlete with the use of a laptop and a wireless Internet card during the school year. The elegantly simple plan may do more to boost the academic productivity of student-athletes than anything else, since only an estimated 40 percent have laptop computers now.
All students must learn to navigate the academic demands of college, but athletes, if they are to succeed in both the classroom and on the playing field, must also become master time management experts. The laptop program will allow them to work almost anywhere, ideally taking advantage of natural down times during team travel. And with college curricula more linked to the Internet than ever, working on the bus may be nearly as good as sitting in the library. The investment represents less than 1 percent of USF's $32 million athletic budget. But it may be the best money spent all year.