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Commentary

College Sports: Show Us the Money

January 19, 2002

William F. Devine ("Unchain Those College Ballplayers," Commentary, Jan. 15) urges that, in the name of justice, collegiate male football players get paid. Fine, but he fails to urge one other crucial step: Stop requiring that the players be students. By acknowledging that those athletes are employees whose academics matter to nobody but themselves, universities could finally cut the Gordian knot of hypocrisy in collegiate athletics.

That would be the right course of action for all revenue-generating sports, at least, which would cover men's football and basketball. Offer the athletes tuition breaks if they want to attend classes but let them continue to play--and collect their salaries--if they flunk. The fans certainly don't care about academics and the schools would continue to reap profits.

The NCAA could stop many of its apparently silly investigations. And schools that want "traditional" football should eliminate all athletic scholarships and other benefits as well as all postseason games.

Finally, the corruption of academia engendered by the current practices would be stopped.

Dave Datz

Altadena

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With the average price of a college education approaching six figures, a college football player should be grateful for a free education, not to mention a chance to cash out in the NFL.

Unlike over-pampered jocks, the majority of college students don't receive full athletic or academic scholarships. If a player feels he's being treated unfairly, let him renounce the scholarship, apply for financial aid and a student loan and get a part- or full-time job to cover his expenses.

Suddenly, exploitation doesn't look so bad anymore, does it?

Lawrence Tonsick

Arcadia

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If the young athletes Devine believes are being exploited by big-time college sports feel the same way, they're free to quit and join the rest of us trying to get ahead in the real world. Even gifted, college-level tight ends and point guards are ultimately a dime a dozen, so replacing them would be easy.

And the simple truth is, alumni interest is going to keep overall TV ratings for college sports more or less the same, regardless of whether the quality of play on the field (court) diminishes by a degree or two.

So, if the roughly $100,000 value of a four-year college education and a priceless opportunity to impress professional scouts isn't enough for college athletes, I challenge them--and the silly folks like Devine who counsel them--to pick up the want ads and try finding a better gig.

Darren McKinney

Washington

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