Simply put, it’s one of the single stupidest news stories we’ve ever covered here at Crystal Ball Run. But it is news, and it is important, so we’ll touch on it briefly. If only to discuss how truly stupid it is.
The “news” centers on a two-star UCLA defensive back recruit Justin Combs, and whether he should give up the college scholarship that he earned to the school because of some extenuating circumstances surrounding him.
What would those circumstances be, exactly? Well, if you think they’ve got to do with drugs, arrests, bar fights or any of the normal stuff that comes up in situations like this, you’d be wrong. Nope, Combs is a good student (carrying a 3.75 GPA) and no reported run ins with the law that we can find.
Instead, the “controversy” (if you can call it that) doesn’t center around “what” Justin Combs did, but “who” he is. And who he is, is the son of rap superstar and clothing designer Sean Combs, aka P. Diddy, a man who according to Forbes, has made $550 million over the course of his career, and a reported $45 million alone in 2012 already. It’s not like he was out trying to find a place where to bet on the super bowl.
And now some around the UCLA campus (where tuition will increase 16 percent over the next four years), are wondering if the uber-wealthy Combs should give his scholarship who is financially less stable.
Don’t worry, we’ll get into “need” based scholarships vs. “merit” based scholarships in a second. But first, the news, via BusinessInsider.com:
But Combs’ scholarship, which is awarded to student athletes specifically, is one of about 285 full athletic scholarships UCLA awards each year, according to a statement issued Wednesday.
Still, some students are balking, calling on the athletic department to reconsider the scholarship altogether.
“UCLA’s athletic department needs to consider the fact that perhaps there is another athlete on the football team, who could perhaps really use this scholarship,” UCLA student Neshemah Keetin told CBS Los Angeles.
Of course, since we live in an overly sensitive society where even the most myopic issues need further clarification, UCLA released a statement on Thursday night defending the school, which said in part:
Unlike need-based scholarships, athletic scholarships are awarded to students strictly on the basis of their athletic and academic ability — not their financial need. Athletic scholarships, such as those awarded to football or basketball players, do not rely on state funds. Instead, these scholarships are entirely funded through UCLA Athletics ticket sales, corporate partnerships, media contracts and private donations from supporters.
Each year, UCLA awards the equivalent of approximately 285 full athletic scholarships to outstanding student athletes. The scholarships are used by the UCLA Department of Intercollegiate Athletics to pay students’ tuition and fees, as well as room and board. In this respect, UCLA is no different from the overwhelming majority of Division I institutions.
So seriously, didn’t I tell you this was stupid? And because of the sheer stupidity of it all, I honestly don’t even know where to begin.
For starters, let’s touch on the point I made before (and that UCLA followed up with) and say that there is a big difference between “need” based scholarships and “merit” based ones. The simple truth is that anyone who earns a football scholarship did in fact “earn” it. In major college athletics, there are no handouts, no freebies, and no giving away something as valuable as a football scholarship to a guy who doesn’t warrant it. There is too much pressure to win, too much money on the line, too much at stake for these coaches to do otherwise.
And make no mistake, Combs did earn the scholarship. Besides the fact that he graduated with a reported 3.75 GPA from Iona Prep School in New York, he also held scholarship offers from the University of Virginia, Illinois and others. Would this be such a controversy if he had accepted a scholarship to one of those schools, in one of those states, where the budget surplus wasn’t quite so large? I suspect not. Not to mention that Combs originally committed to Rick Neuheisel’s staff at UCLA, and stayed committed through the coaching change with Jim L. Mora. Meaning of course, that two separate coaching staffs evaluated him, and thought he was good enough to play at the school. To which I would add: Does Jim Mora really strike you as the kind of guy who is just going to give scholarships away because of who your daddy is? He certainly doesn’t seem that way to me.
Besides, it’s not like Combs is the only son of a prominent celebrity to recently accept a college football scholarship. In the last eight or so months alone, Barry Sanders Jr. (son of Barry Sanders) signed to play at Stanford, Trey Griffey (son of Ken Griffey Jr.) at Arizona, and in the class of 2013 we’ve already seen David Robinson’s son Corey commit to Notre Dame, Karl Malone Jr. commit to LSU and Kelvin Taylor (son of Fred) verbal to Florida. Now granted, these aren’t all apples to apples comparisons, but the point remains: If you earn a scholarship, then crap, you earned it. Like any young person- regards of whether they’re an athlete, musician or just really freakin’ smart- they should be rewarded for their hard work, not punished.
As a matter of fact, the more I reflect on Combs’ specific situation, the more I think that it’s more insulting for him to be asked to give his scholarship back, then for UCLA to offer it in the first place. As a society aren’t we always complaining about the preferential treatment celebrities get; free clothes, fancy vacations, stuff like that? But wait, isn’t asking Combs to give back his scholarship doing exactly what we hate: Singling him out for his celebrity? If we really wanted to treat him like anyone else, this wouldn’t be an issue. We’d congratulate him for his hard work, then tell him to get ready for four years of hell under Mora in Westwood.
Again, this is one of the stupidest, most moronic and idiotic things we’ve ever covered at Crystal Ball Run.
I think I speak for the whole staff when I say: To Justin Combs, we wish you the best of luck this fall. Keep up all the good work. And don’t listen to the haters.