Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness once made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke calls for an end to NCAA rules prohibiting student athletes from making money.
Since it was founded in 1906, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has been responsible for the cesspool of corruption that has plagued college sports. It is impossible for the NCAA to continue business as usual in the wake of the mind-blowing allegations Yahoo! Sports has made against the University of Miami football and basketball programs. The ridiculous system preventing student athletes from getting paid or receiving anything of value must be scrapped.
More than a century of treating student athletes like indentured servants is finally catching up with the NCAA. How can anyone expect college players to be satisfied with just getting a scholarship and free room and board at a major university that rakes in tens of millions of dollars annually from conference television deals, bowl games, and the NCAA basketball tournament? It's downright ludicrous.
The people who run the NCAA need to have perspective and understand the environment where most major college athletes grew up. Roughly 95 percent of the athletes playing football and basketball are African-Americans who come from disadvantaged homes in the inner city. These kids are the only hope their families have of escaping financial and social ruin. When they sign letters of intent, they are essentially giving up basic freedoms. For starters, student athletes are not guaranteed full scholarships. A coach can take away a football player's scholarship at any point even if the kid is getting good grades and staying out of trouble.
And unlike kids who receive full academic scholarships, student athletes must surrender their right to work. So if you're an 18-year-old wide receiver with a baby, how can you help feed and care for your child? Even Olympians are allowed endorsement deals.
Furthermore, the recent scandals at Ohio State, Oregon, North Carolina, and other major schools show it is virtually impossible to keep tabs on what very single student athlete is up to. You can't punish them because they are acting their age. Seriously, what 19- or 20-year-old would turn down free drinks at a nightclub or a boat outing on Biscayne Bay?
The NCAA or universities should either start paying athletes or set up trusts with money earned from bowl games, basketball tournaments, and television contracts to share the wealth with the players.
It's time to emancipate college athletes.
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