On Tuesday morning, the FCC and the NFL shit their respective bricks after watching a revealing commercial featuring Terrell Owens. The NBA is cracking the whip on Vince Carter for sporting an iPod during warm-ups. NBA Commissioner David Stern was livid at some controversial comments made by Latrell Sprewell. Such were the headlines that dominated ESPN’s Web site and SportsCenter alike. There is a much more pressing problem that has gone entirely unnoticed throughout all this bickering over morality and political correctness.
The problem that officials and sportswriters have failed to address is in the NCAA. The fiasco that has been Maurice Clarett’s tenure at Ohio State peaked last week when he accused OSU Head Coach Jim Tressell of providing him and other members of the 2002 National Championship football team with cars, money and anything else a young college student could desire. Everything seemed kosher after the two won a national championship together – then the shit hit the fan.
A series of probes and false auto claims ultimately led to Clarett’s dismissal from OSU and from football entirely for the past two years. Then, last week, Clarett fought back. One could reason that he is merely trying to smear mud on the program that blackballed him from college football and one could question Clarett’s timing of these monumental accusations, identifying them as a desperate plea for attention.
On the other hand, people close to the Buckeye football program admitted that Clarett and Tressell were always extremely close. Several of Clarett’s teammates came out and admitted to receiving handouts from the program and contributors as well.
The source of the problem is that major schools like Ohio State have unimaginable contributions from alumni and pack their football stadiums with 70,000 plus fans every Saturday. Major schools make millions of dollars off their superstar athletes and the athletes make nothing.
Schools can argue that they are paying their players’ tuition, which is a kind of payment in its own right. But consider this, last year’s student athlete graduation rate for football and men’s basketball was a meager 45 percent. These two programs, however unsuccessful academically, are the two biggest moneymakers in college athletics. While most of us can only dream of suiting up for our college basketball team, the athletes undoubtedly love it, but the time commitment involved and being paid nothing seems unfair.
Athletes like Clarrett have a full-time commitment to the program with practices, games, video sessions and press obligations. Athletes who are on the national stage and idolized by fans and equally highlighted all over ESPN feel that they may deserve something more, considering the rest of the world is making money off of them, but they don’t see a dime. I can’t condone either of their actions, but the NCAA will never get rid of these kickback scandals until the maligned system is changed.
Daily Nexus assistant opinion editor Sean Swaby wishes that the sports editors would seduce him with SUVs for his services.