“In Limbo?”

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS August 26, 2013    #451 Up nest…”In Limbo?”

After further review…Some years ago—many actually—this writer was accepted at Occidental College as a freshman, excited to attend such a prestigious school, but unaided by scholarship. OXY does not grant athletic scholarships. My freshman year was a wonderful opportunity to play three sports (football, basketball and baseball), and to benefit from outstanding professors, who I would describe as my most challenging “sport”. During weekends, holidays and summertime I worked as a gas station attendant, providing the classic definition of “customer service”. Not much money was earned, but it did provide me with gas, oil and a little pocket change. I eagerly looked forward to my sophomore year.

So much for my early college career. Let’s imagine instead how much “Johnny Football” is looking forward to his sophomore year at Texas A&M? There is a vast difference between the guy mentioned above and A&M freshman sensation Johnny Manziel. Not just athletically, but also in how their educations were financed.

Texas A&M, located in College Station, is a top- ranked academic institution with a proud athletic history.  Manziel became a star his first season out at quarterback for the Aggies, winning the Heisman Trophy (www.heisman.com). It was the first time in 76 years a freshman was so honored; a significant point of separation from that Occidental freshman. Manziel didn’t have to earn his spending money working at a gas station, another point of separation. (They don’t provide much customer service today anyway). Manziel did allegedly make money though, autographing his A&M football (#2) jersey.

Oops, sorry Johnny Football, but NCAA Rule “prevents student-athletes from accepting money for        promotion or sales of a product or service”.  At this writing there has been no proof of money changing hands. The NCAA is investigating, of course, and while the legion of lawyers battles it out, Manziel is in limbo. So are the Aggies, awaiting the arrival of top-ranked Alabama at Kyle Field in College Station on September 14th.

So the question here is: Should student-athletes be paid to play for their school T*E*A*M? Some will argue that they already get “paid” with free tuition, books, tutors, room and board and a small monetary stipend. Is that enough for the athlete whose time is in such demand for sports that generate revenue for their schools and conferences? And if greater compensation were allowed, how is it equitably distributed among all athletes–male and female?

Will you log-in with your thoughts on pay for college student-athletes?

To contact Jim go to www.jimtunney.com or email him at jim@jimtunney.com.

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