Column: Chaos in college athletics: Who’s exploiting whom?




Bob was a dirt poor kid from Pensacola, Fla., when he won a scholarship for football at a Division I school in Mississippi. He had grown up in the kind of poverty most of us can hardly imagine, and the scholarship was a godsend — the only way he could imagine going to college.

There was only one hitch. He had absolutely no money, beyond the room and board provided by the university, and he had no legal way of getting it. He couldn’t buy a hamburger nor afford to go to a movie or to get his bad teeth fixed. His family had nothing, and the time he spent on the football field and keeping up his grades and the restrictions imposed by the NCAA precluded him from working.

While others around him were enjoying at least some semblance of college social life, the small amount of free time afforded him was spent in his dorm room. He increasingly believed he was in prison. He saw only one way out. He quit the team and dropped out of school. He found a job and enrolled in a much cheaper community college program. He was frugal, living in a tiny room and washing dishes at an all-night restaurant for his food.

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