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The Comedy and Tragedy of the Justin Combs Scholarship

I find the all the chatter on the Justin Combs scholarship very interesting.

There are a lot of ways to look at this, some obvious, some not so obvious.

In the grand scheme of things this isn't a big deal to me, which made it surprising that so many put in their two cents. Joey has a good take over on Pacific Takes and Pete Fiutak has good write up as well. Most of the stuff I have read pretty much says what I agree with, that this isn't a big deal and it really should not matter. But on the other hand, I find the irony amusing on multiple levels.

Lets get the easy stuff out the way first.

Combs earned and deserves his scholarship. He is the perfect player for UCLA, he has a 3.75 GPA and is an average football player rated around 2-stars. Pretty close to what UCLA has recruited over the past few years for the most part, so they are holding true to form. Combs made the obvious choice in picking UCLA over Illinois...not a lot to do in central Illinois, do the math.

I don’t see any problem with that, partly because I was okay with the Lil Romeo recruitment.

There were many who mocked USC for their recruiting of Lil Romeo. We aren't ignorant here, we know Tim Floyd recruited Miller and DeMar DeRozan as a package deal, saying anything different would be dishonest. A school can use their scholarships as they see fit, they can recruit anyone they want as long as they meet the NCAA's eligibility requirements. Miller's recruitment was good PR for the program...just like UCLA will use Combs for PR in hosting top recruits. If you think they won't use that to their advantage then you are fooling yourself.

And I don’t see any problem with that, either.

What I am not getting is all the outrage in the mainstream media on this. It’s not like Justin Combs is the only player to get a scholarship when he’s a “son of;” it is not Justin's fault that his dad is a mega-media mogul. Where was all the outrage on the kids of Joe Montana, Rick Neuheisel, Mike Golic and Michael Jordan when their kids accepted scholarships? It’s not like those fathers couldn’t have scraped together the tuition. And Sean Combs is no different than anyone else...when offered something of value for free, human nature says you take it.

The problem I have with this is the spillover of where we are as a society. This is knee-jerk class warfare in two areas, the UC budget and a double standard being applied to Sean Combs.

I realize that the UC system is in financial dire straits, but it is my understanding that athletic scholarships are completely different from academic scholarships. It would appear from afar that the UC academic side is eating their own on the athletic side...that is a big disconnect. But even if there was some budget overlap between the UCLA football program and the academic side of the house, is one scholarship really going to make that big a difference? The UC budget problems dwarf a single football scholarship.

As for the double standard, I am not big fan of Hip-Hop, so I know very little of Combs work in the medium, but on the surface it would appear that Sean Combs is a hard working entertainer who has done the right things in raising his son. As a society we want that and Combs delivered.... and yet the the media who has traditionally fought for the little guy is now attacking someone who started as a little guy and built his empire from nothing.

Plus, saying that Combs could pay his son’s way is missing the point - both of a scholarship, and financially. You don’t think that UCLA is going to get donations from Sean Combs over this, worth more than the original scholarship? That seems pretty well win-win.

I think the UCLA administration make a mistake in responding to this. It's a pitch in the dirt, so why swing? If the general public has an issue with this then they can do their own research on it. UCLA is well within their rights here and they don't need to explain it to anyone, it doesn't matter that they are a public institution because they’re not, in this one case, undermining their mission to serve the public.

Combs met all of the requirements for the scholarship. Last time I checked, scholarships are based on merit not need. That should really be the end of it.

That this is even an issue is comic on some levels but tragic on many others.

And people wonder why it seems like we aren't progressing as a society.