Former Tennessee running back Arian Foster has this to say:
“I don’t know if this will throw us into an NCAA investigation — my senior year, I was getting money on the side,” said Foster. “I really didn’t have any money. I had to either pay the rent or buy some food. I remember the feeling of like, ‘Man, be careful.’ But there’s nothing wrong with it. And you’re not going to convince me that there is something wrong with it.
Well, I guess he has a lot more to say, but you can click the link for that.
I don’t doubt there are a lot of really poor kids that attend school on athletic scholarships. I have no doubts that many of these kids have zero discretionary money to use. It would be plain stupid to say otherwise.
But I do not buy the “either pay rent or buy some food argument.” Something is missing whenever we hear that. You can bet on it.
Athletes that receive major college football scholarships don’t usually go hungry. And they aren’t usually homeless. Schools may break up or allocate their scholarship benefits differently, but they aren’t expecting their athletes to scratch up their own meal money or rent. That just doesn’t happen.
Let me put it another way that maybe will make sense. When Foster showed up in Knoxville to enroll, I’m guessing somebody explained “here’s how you eat” and “you can live in certain places and here’s how that’s paid for.” I’m guessing that Foster was probably given access to meals or money for rent and it was spent on other things. Not that he didn’t need those other things, but when you spend it, it’s gone.
Later in the article, he also mentions this:
“I said, ‘Coach, we don’t have no food. We don’t have no money. We’re hungry. Either you give us some food, or I’m gonna go do something stupid.’ He came down and he brought like 50 tacos for like four or five of us. Which is an NCAA violation. [laughs] But then, the next day I walk up to the facility and I see my coach pull up in a brand new Lexus. Beautiful.”
Coach is working 80 or 90 hours, never sees his family and is driving a comped Lexus and I’ve spent my meal money so I’ll get him to babysit me and come on over and commit an NCAA violation. Got it.
The system is broken, but I’m sorry, it’s hard for me to muster any sympathy here.
I could be totally wrong. Maybe Foster actually was expected to pay for his apartment and pay for his food on his own. But I just can’t see how.