Steinberg: College system needs fixing

Steinberg Says

August 20, 2011|By Leigh Steinberg

The recent revelations concerning the University of Miami football program show just how broken the current NCAA system is.

The allegations suggest that booster Nevin Shapiro, currently in jail for fraud, paid millions to Hurricane athletes and coaches. He allegedly paid for prostitutes, abortions, boat rides and cars. The stark reality is that much of this practice goes on every day in college sports. Enforcement is selective.

Had Reggie Bush paid off the second agent he took hundreds of thousands of dollars from, which would have prevented a public lawsuit, the USC sanctions would not have seen the light of day.


College athletes are sometimes at a disadvantage when it comes to their non-athletic peers. When I attended UCLA and Berkeley, my parents covered all expenses and gave me a weekly allowance for spending money. Athletes, some with financially challenged backgrounds, do not even have the right to work during the school year to supplement their income.

They engage in a normal academic schedule and have major time demands from preseason, their playing season and offseason conditioning programs. They look at students wearing nice clothes, driving nice cars and eating well and contrast that with their own situation.

In cities such as Los Angeles and Miami, life in the fast lane and opulence are all around them. NCAA restrictions are rigid. For example, it is a violation for a player to walk into the football office and use the phone to call their family. It is a violation for a school to help an athlete get home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. There are occasional programs that can be tapped for additional revenue for players, but not nearly enough.

I realize athletes are given the benefit of a free college education. But many of the athletes are only on campus because the NBA and NFL have prohibitions on when athletes are eligible to enter the pros.

I venerate the concept of college and wish every athlete would be motivated to graduate, but nowhere does it state that the study of the Pythagorean theorem or Art History is a legal prerequisite to cut off tackle for four yards. We force athletes to attend college who have no interest or academic qualifications to be there.

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