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Letters: Right path for college athletes

April 12, 2014

Re "In free agency we trust," Opinion, April 8

I'm desperately trying to hold on to the quaint notion that college athletes should be students first and foremost. Therefore, I applaud Mark Brilliant's idea of setting up a trust fund that spreads the wealth and yet is also tied in with academic progress.

But he leaves out one group that profits most handsomely from the current system and never seems to have to pay for any of it: the owners of professional basketball and football franchises.

Colleges provide nice, cheap training grounds for the NFL and the NBA. If the professional teams want to continue to have the picks of the college litter, the NCAA should ask the NBA and the NFL to play an economic role in making sure the athletes they rely on get at least some just economic desserts during their years in training.

John de Jong

Long Beach

Brilliant thinks a good way to solve the NCAA student-athlete dilemma is simply to spread the wealth of billions of dollars around.

I suggest a different path: Follow in the footsteps of the University of Chicago, which in 1939 shut down its powerhouse football program on the grounds that it was a distraction to academics.

The university ended the premier program led by Amos Alonzo Stagg, which had produced the nation's first Heisman Trophy winner in 1935.

Let the aspiring athletes who place academics second to sports find their own way from high school athletics to the professional leagues. Let all colleges offer Division III-level programs, just as the University of Chicago does now.

Ed Umbrasas

Thousand Oaks

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