Another NCAA Tournament, another why-don't-college-athletes-get-paid-when-the-NCAA-is-making-billions-of-dollars-off-of-them? debate.
In the second round of this year's tourney, Kansas State senior Jamar Samuels was ruled ineligible and held out of KSU's game against Syracuse because he accepted a $200 payment right before the tournament from a family friend who just so happens to be the founder of an AAU organization. If you go by NCAA regulations, Samuels accepting that money was a clear violation of the rules in place and, therefore, he was no longer eligible to participate in college athletics. But much was made about the ruling in Samuels' case, because: A) He's not considered an NBA prospect, so the $200 in question wasn't some sort of bribe that was being used to sway him to sign with a certain agent, and B) The $200 came from someone who Samuels considered a father figure, so to him, it was no different than his own mother putting a couple dollars into his bank account so that he could get something to eat.
So, who's right here? Was what Samuels did really that wrong? Well, according to Samuels' own coach Frank Martin, even he has given money to former players of his. He claims that when he was a high school coach in Miami during the 1990s, he routinely sent money to guys in college who used to play for him, simply because they didn't have anyone else to turn to for money.
"I coached 16 years in the same inner city in Miami that I grew up in," he said over the weekend while taking part in the CBS broadcast of the NCAA Tournament. "Do you know how much money I sent to kids that played for me in high school when they were in college because I knew where they came from? I knew they didn't have a father figure...Jamar walked into an unfortunate situation, because like I've told everybody, he didn't ask an agent for money. He didn't ask a booster for money...He asked a person who has been a father figure in his life since he was about 12 years of age. What is he supposed to do?"
Good question. That's the question that everyone has been asking since Samuels was ruled ineligible. And until the NCAA finds out a good way to answer it, we're gonna continue to have this age-old debate every year when they NCAA Tournament rolls around. So, what it's gonna be, NCAA? At some point, we're gonna need to know.
[via Kansas City Star]
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