On Sunday in Ann Arbor, three members of the Fab Five were recognized (again) for their exploits on the court during the early ’90s for the Michigan Wolverines. As usual, the entire group of five was not on hand as the University still struggles with how to embrace the Steve Fisher era that was marred with money, boosters and top recruits. This story goes on everyday in colleges across the country. While the stories may not be as open as the one that took place at U of M, these stories continue to inspire young student-athletes into the potential riches, rather than the successes of sport.
What’s happening in the news in college football right now is a continuation of the ongoing contradiction between big-money college sports and athletes who are supposed to value their scholarships and education over their bank accounts.
It’s a battle of men vs. women, rich vs. poor, “popular” sports vs. unpopular ones. Kids are taken out of challenging, inner-city living conditions to make big money for a basketball or football school looking to make it to the next level. One year it’s Reggie Bush, the next year it’s Cam Newton – the stories sound similar because college athletics are truly all about the money.
In thinking of potential solutions to the inbalance of money between players/student-athletes and the NCAA, one potential result could be paying players based on winning. While this wouldn’t necessarily address the recruiting process, it could stop some athletes in seeking additional funding based on their popularity. In the case of Auburn’s Newton, it seems that the issue was systemic from the entire community looking to support the team through funding its highest profiled athletes. The thirst of a community for success on the court, gridiron, etc., can be intoxicating, and can change one’s morals for the worst.