Wednesday, January 10

Spaghetti scandal could prompt rule change

Last Thursday this blog wrote about the recent "scandal" involving four players from the Ohio State football team. Friends of the players organized a spaghetti dinner fundraiser to help the families travel to Arizona for the national championship game. The players left the event after speaking to an assitant coach by phone and the players were cleared of wrongdoing.

Initially, Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith wouldn't comment on whether the controversy should prompt a rule change. On Sunday, the day before the Florida Gators beat Ohio State in the college football national championship game, Florida coach Urban Meyer was quoted by the Akron Beacon Journal indicating support for changes in NCAA rule.

``I heard the story about the get-together to raise money. That's nonsense,'' Meyer said Sunday. ``To think about all this money being shuffled around and here is a star player whose mom can't afford to go out there, that's not right.

``I certainly don't have the answer. The families having a spaghetti dinner so they can watch their son play in the national championship game, that's not right.''

The Gainesville Sun offered an insightful analysis of the of inequality exposed by the controversy.
...when Meyer was pressed on the issue, he said players receive money for expenses before bowl games. He finally offered some criticism of a system that doesn't allow fundraisers to help players' families travel to games.

UF players received a total of $300 for meals and other expenses the week they spent in Arizona. As a reward for participating in the game, organizers give them a portable XM satellite radio and a Tourneau watch, gifts that fetch hundreds of dollars in stores.

Meyer, by contrast, received a bonus of $150,000 for appearing in the game and would receive at least another $75,000 for winning. That's on top of more than $1.5 million in salary this year, which is part of a seven-year, $14 million deal.
The game had a payout of $14 million to $17 million per school. The money is divided evenly between the Southeastern Conference and its dozen member schools, which also split $6 million for Louisiana State's appearance in the Sugar Bowl.

I understand the goals the NCAA is going after here... but a college athlete could suffer a career ending injury at any time, I agree with Nathan Crabbe "letting athletes share in the wealth when it's being created seems to me like something worth talking about."

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