By Jim Owczarski Sports Editor Published May 30, 2013 at 6:50 PM

We’re approaching the halfway point of the calendar year, and it’s been an eventful one for the athletic programs at many of our nation’s fine academic institutions.

We’ve had coaches fire basketballs at player’s heads and make them crap themselves.

We’ve had search committees being paid $70,000 to find a new athletic director to "clean up" an abusive athletic department, only to find out the new A.D. has a history of abusing players and staff.

We’ve got ridiculous lawsuits, perfectly reasonable lawsuits, "improper use of hose" violations and improper conductwithin the NCAA investigations team.

We’ve got a university president saying he can’t trust Catholics and that members of southern schools can’t read.

Oh – and then there was this little graphic that showed that the highest paid state employee in 40 states, including Wisconsin, is a coach.

You may say picking on college athletics and the NCAA is commonplace, and easy. It’s true, because it is. These are just the headlines I can remember off the top of my head. These aren’t even the most egregious, which include instances of academic fraud, physical and sexual assaults, drug and alcohol addiction and homophobia – just to name a few.

Oh yeah, the NCAA and college athletics are easy targets. And they should be.

College sports are fun for some people, and they do contribute to the overall collegiate experience – but it may be time to truly take the major revenue-generating sports away from the academic part of the institution.

Pay the players. Don’t make them go to class if they don’t want to. Bring in separate, athletic-specific people (i.e. team presidents and general managers) to run the day-to-day operations and keep university chancellors, boards and presidents focused on what truly matters – the other 99% of the student base that is paying outrageous sums of tuition to you know, learn.

It seems now, more than ever, the money and "prestige" associated with these athletic ventures is far more corrupting and corrosive than it has ever been.

Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.

A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.

To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.

Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining

In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.

Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.