Piece of the Pie


Money is an important issue for almost all college students. Very few are lucky
enough not to have the financial burdens of tuition, housing, and food interfere
with their academic initiatives. Some students have parents that are wealthy
enough to cover all of the costs of college. Other students are given financial
aid from the university that they attend. If necessary, students can get jobs to
help differ the costs. There are no restrictions put on most students as to
where they can work, or how much they can earn. Most students have this freedom,
but varsity athletes with scholarships attending Division I schools do not. The
National Collegiate Athletic Association, the governing body of collegiate
athletics, restricts these athletes from having jobs. Even though these
athletes would have a hard time make room for a job between practices, meetings
and games, they are not even given the opportunity to do so because of the NCAA
regulations. These regulations are based on the fear that athletes could be
employed by affiliates of the university, who could attract the best athletes by
unjustifiably paying them extraordinary salaries. While this may be a valid
concern, the regulations are most often carried out to ridiculous lengths which
ultimately do not serve the purpose they are intended to have. For example,
Northwestern University has an aspiring young actor named Darnell Autry who also
happens to be the starting running back for the University\'s football team.
Darnell was offered a role, based entirely on his acting abilities, in a major
network\'s sitcom. The NCAA nearly forbid him from accepting this offer based on
the regulations against athlete employment. Darnell was eventually allowed to
accept the job, however, the NCAA did not allow him to get paid for his work.
They reasoned that the cost of the flight out of Chicago was payment enough for
Darnell. As in Darnell\'s case, the regulations cause more problems then they
prevent.
The prospect of the money waiting for many athletes, like Darnell, when
they leave college, leads them to abandon their education and head straight for
the professional leagues. Some athletes, like Shawn Kemp or Kobe Bryant, skip
college entirely. Kemp and Bryant both went directly from high school to the
National Basketball Association, and are currently making millions of dollars a
year. Other athletes, such as Stephon Marbury, Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby,
Terry Glen, and Tim Biakabatuka, all college phenomenons from basketball and
football, skip as many as three of their remaining college years. The lure of
fame and fortune is making more and more athletes leave college early each year.
Even those that stand a slim chance of ever becoming professionals cannot resist
the temptation to leave. These athletes often end up without the million dollar
contracts, and more importantly, without college degrees to fall back on. The
pressure these athletes feel from being so financially limited by NCAA
regulations also makes them consider leaving early. Many of these athletes\'
families would not be able to pay for college costs were it not for their
scholarships their sons and daughters receive. Such athletes are hard pressed to
ask their parents for extra money for the costs not covered by scholarships.
These scholarship athletes are put at a great disadvantage because, unlike other
students at any given university, including those on academic scholarships, the
athletes are not allowed to have jobs to earn the extra money they need. The
idea of leaving college early almost seems honorable in contrast to some other
temptations to which college athletes may succumb. In the past few years the
NCAA has seen many incidents involving player infractions of regulations. In one
particular scandal, members of the Florida State football team were caught with
illegal gifts from Foot Locker, provided by a corrupt agent. Florida State is
not the only University with such problems. The University of Miami, and Auburn
have been two notoriously corrupt athletic programs. Such situations are all to
common, as officials on every level seem to look the other way. Their students
are enticed further and further by the temptation of money, until the
universities are investigated by the NCAA. This an example of how the NCAA
regulations create an environment where the athletes can give way to the extra
pressures placed upon them. The pressure they feel often leads them to cross the
line between what is legal and illegal according to the NCAA, as in the Florida
State Foot Locker scandal. Since they are not usually caught, and even when they
are the penalties are not very severe, it should then come as