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College Athletes: Still Getting Screwed

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Just caught this "Outside the Lines" segment about the recent roster turnover caused by John Calipari's arrival at the University of Kentucky. Basically, six Wildcat players were "encouraged" to leave the program so that Calipari could make room to bring in his own players. While the focus of this segment is mostly on UK, it's clear that this type of treatment of student athletes occurs nationwide, and the real villain here is the NCAA, an organization whose actual purpose is utterly baffling. Nothing that Calipari has done at UK is against the rules, nor is it uncommon. With his big salary and expectations that come along with it, I can't really blame the guy for wanting to put "his" guys on the floor. The point is, he shouldn't be allowed to and the organization charged with protecting student athletes, does anything but.

The gist of the OTL story is that when a new head coach takes over a program, it's customary for student athletes to be shown the door, for no other reason than to make room for some of the new coaches favorites. I would have less of a problem with this if NCAA rules afforded student athletes similar flexibility. For example, if the coach that recruited a student-athlete was fired during that player's freshman year...that player does not have the option to easily transfer to another school. If that player wants to play for another D-1A program he/she needs to sit out a year...and the school he's leaving can place all sorts of restrictions on where the student can transfer to in exchange for a release from the scholarship. Texas Tech football will be an interesting situation to monitor, because apparently under the rules, whoever takes over there can "encourage" players not to return by making it clear that they will be buried on the sidelines and their scholarships will not be renewed. On the other hand, the current freshman who expected to play four years under Mike Leach is left uncertain what his future holds. The new coach is free to implement a new system that makes his skill set obsolete, the new coach may be a total a-hole, or the new coach may send him packing....but the student athlete has no real recourse other than to ride the situation out or transfer and put up with the NCAA's litany of rules.

I don't have an answer, nor do I know how to fix the problem...but this is just another example of Division 1 college athletes being treated like comodities, while everyone else makes $$$ off their hard work and talent.