It’s possibly a coincidence that the most selective academic school in the SUNYAC also happens to be the highest-achieving athletic program.
And sure, it’s possibly a coincidence that the top (top 10? top 20?) Division III athletic programs in the country also happen to be highly selective private institutions, or act like them.
Possible, but highly unlikely.
It’s more likely that the student-athletes who go to these institutions, by no doing of their own, were born into more fortuitous circumstances: better genes, higher-income families, parents who read to them frequently and were Bobby Knight-like in SAT prep intensity. These student-athletes grew up in neighborhoods with other high-achieving families, where these behaviors were normal. They had better teachers, better coaches, better friends, you name it.
I’m generalizing, of course, but I’m not far off the mark.
Once you realize the game you’re playing is rigged you can stop playing it.
[Simon Sinek goes into more detail about what I’m referring to, using Apple and Microsoft as examples.]