Golfer's penalty latest sign of need for NCAA changes

In the 2011-12 school year, the NCAA brought in $876 million in revenue. A majority of that money came from the 14-year, $10.8 billion TV deal the NCAA signed with CBS and Turner Broadcasting for the television rights of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

And yet, despite the millions of dollars the NCAA makes by profiting off of student athletes, they want $20 from a golfer.

In a story that came to light on Thursday, the NCAA is penalizing a female golfer from an unnamed school in the West Coast Conference for violating NCAA rules.

Her crime?

Using a hose that belongs to the school to wash her car.

Really?

In the last five years, there have been scandals involving improper payments to student athletes, from Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo at USC to the allegations by former University of Miami booster Nevin Shapiro.

Throughout these scandals, the question has been: Why not just pay the student athletes?

It's a question that Luther Campbell raised in an Op-Ed piece in the Miami New Times in August 2011, just as the latest allegations against the University of Miami were surfacing.

Campbell is best known for his association with the hip-hop group 2 Live Crew, which pushed the envelope of free speech and obscenity laws in the late 1980s early '90s. At the same time, Campbell was alleged to have been behind a pay-for-play system that involved the Miami Hurricanes football team.

In the Miami New Times, he equates NCAA football to modern day slavery. He writes: "When they sign letters of intent, they are essentially giving up basic freedoms. For starters, student athletes are not guaranteed full scholarships. A coach can take away a football player's scholarship at any point even if the kid is getting good grades and staying out of trouble.

"And unlike kids who receive full academic scholarships, student athletes must surrender their right to work. So if you're an 18-year-old wide receiver with a baby, how can you help feed and care for your child? Even Olympians are allowed endorsement deals."

For the NCAA's part, they want to keep the athletes as amateurs, but Campbell has a point when universities are raking in millions of dollars in ticket revenue, sponsorships, conference television revenues and bowl games. And yet those athletes who are generating all that revenue for the school can't even afford to take their girlfriend out on a date or, in the case of the golfer, can't even afford a car wash.

Something has to give.

Some will agree the athletes are getting paid in the form of a free education and room and board, but free tuition doesn't pay for your share of the electric bill or your car insurance premium.

I'm not saying college athletes should be paid millions like the pros, but what is wrong with a school that is making millions off your services paying you a stipend of $1,500 to $2,000 a month? Or for those football and basketball players, where the school makes money off your likeness, why not take a percentage from those sales, put it into a trust and pay the athlete once he completes his eligibility.

During my time at the University of Arizona, you could walk into the bookstore and buy a No. 7 football jersey. There was no name on it, but everyone knew it was a Willie Tuitama jersey. After the quarterback graduated, he went from being named MVP of the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl to working as a waiter at Buffalo Wild Wings, and yet the UA made millions off of the jerseys sold and the bowl game, which meant a payout for the school.

Modern day slavery?

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