The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

July 17, 2014

College athletes face serious issues today

MORGANTOWN — Anyone who doesn’t believe the nation’s intercollegiate athletics aren’t out of control should really give this serious matter more consideration.

That’s going to be the subject of today’s column. It deals with what we had in college amateur sports as far ago as the 1940s — and even before — and what’s happening now.

The NCAA admittedly is concerned about things in addition to a growing rise of concerns in football. That in itself is in litigations by players of past years.

There’s now an attempt in the so-called Ed O’Brien court trial to entitle college athletes to receive part of the money from TV and other income benefiting from their performances.

Granted, wouldn’t that truly put an absolute end to the age-old amateur standing in college athletics at every level of competition?

Indeed, wouldn’t that throw a monkey wrench into the rules the NCAA has set over a period of many, many years that we can remember?

There are those folks who think the NCAA will be put out of business eventually anyway. They suspect the major conferences will take over and pocket even more millions for themselves.

This isn’t something that popped up overnight. It has been rampant and growing increasingly at money-making pace. Not only at West Virginia University, in my opinion, but at universities from coast to coast.

The saddening situation has become so outlandish that football players at Northwestern University have voted on whether to form a union.

A friend suggested that would in reality make student-athletes school employees with bargaining rights for additional compensation.

To a guy who remembers what it was like in Morgantown during the Great Depression that started in 1929 and growing up in the 1930s, I can’t understand some of the complaints by college athletes of today.

Trust me, this is a far different era than their predecessors who performed even before World War II.

For example, are you aware that not any member of WVU’s 1942 national championship men’s basketball team was on scholarship? All came to the university as walk-ons.

I’m sure they did receive meals while in New York for more than a week while winning the National Invitation Tournament at famed Madison Square Garden. The approval of donations from Mountaineer fans, the players, coach Dyke Raese and trainer Art Smith also had spending money.

In fact, I recall that the sports editor of Morgantown’s morning newspaper received a collect telegram from Smith telling him, “Take up another collection. We’re down to our own money.”

That was permitted by the governing body in those days. Scholarship offers followed in the late 1940s and thereafter.

Perhaps today’s colleges might benefit by inquiring further about what athletes in college then had to endure. Even those early birds on a grant-in-aid scholarship received a lot less than those in the same status and in number today.

I recall that those in the 1950s got a pitifully mere $15 a month supposedly for laundry and dry cleaning!

Who’s to blame for athletic departments’ modern out-of-control spending in college athletics today?

My guess is it started at WVU with the Board of Governors, then the presidents and now under the athletic director’s watch.

That’s my opinion. Do you have any thoughts about this serious situation?

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