(Alex Wong / Associated Press )
Consumer advocate Ralph Nader is calling for the elimination of college athletic scholarships, saying the move is necessary to "de-professionalize" college athletes.
"As we near the exciting conclusion of March Madness — which would more accurately be described as the 2011 NCAA Professional Basketball Championships — it's time we step back and finally address the myth of amateurism surrounding big-time college football and basketball in this country," said Nader, whose League of Fans is proposing that the scholarships be replaced with need-based financial aid. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the proposal Thursday, ahead of its official release.
NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said referring to college athletes as professionals defies logic. "They are students, just like any other student on campus who receives a merit-based scholarship," he said.
Nader, a former presidential candidate, argued that his plan would also help reduce the "win-at-all-costs" mentality in high schools, by reducing the incentive of college scholarships.
"An entire industry has developed in the youth sports arena — club teams, personal trainers, etc. — to prey on families' dreams of an athletic scholarship," he said. "The lure of the elusive athletic scholarship is the primary — sometimes the only — marketing tool these youth sports entrepreneurs use."
He said he would try to gin up support for his proposal from university presidents, Capitol Hill and the Education Department.
Wozniacki beats Mattek-Sands
Top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki won her opening match at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Fla., by beating Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-2, 7-5.
Mattek-Sands was the highest-ranked American in the draw at No. 43.
The lone American woman left was Uzbekistan-born Varvara Lepchenko, who has lived in the United States since 2000 and became a citizen this year. The 82nd-ranked player has her second-round match on Friday.
Among the seeded women players eliminated were No. 10 Shahar Peer, No. 13 Flavia Pennetta and No. 18 Nadia Petrova.
No. 4 Sam Stosur beat Zheng Jie of China, 6-2, 6-1, and No. 6 Jelena Jankovic eliminated Monica Niculescu of Romania, 6-3, 6-1. No. 11 Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2006 champion, swept Simona Halep of Romania, 6-0, 6-4.
In men's play, Kei Nishikori of Japan advanced to a second-round match against top-ranked Rafael Nadal on Saturday by beating Jeremy Chardy of France, 7-6 (5), 6-2. Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic will next play Roger Federer after beating Fabio Fognini of Italy, 6-3, 7-6 (5). Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay will face 2010 champion Andy Roddick next after defeating Michael Berrer of Germany, 6-4, 7-6 (2).
Oswalt feels OK a day after line drive to head
Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Roy Oswalt was in good spirits the day after being struck by a line drive off the bat of Manny Ramirez of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Oswalt said that he had a small lump on the back of his head but didn't have a headache. He expected to make his next start.
In the fourth inning of Wednesday's spring-training game in Port Charlotte, Fla., Oswalt threw a pitch to Ramirez. When the liner came right back at him, Oswalt was hit below the ear. X-rays and a CT scan were negative.