Sunday, November 19, 2017
On the Soapbox: UCLA’s big recruit
By Jason Lewis (Sports Editor)
Published June 6, 2012


Please do not argue with the Sports Editor.  That’s like expecting an athlete to pay to become a member of a group that generates million of dollars.  It just does not make any sense.  Illustration by David G. Brown.

Nothing wrong with UCLA signing P Diddy… and his son!

By Jason Lewis

Sentinel Sports Editor

It appears that folks have taken up a new hobby.  That would be to get on their computer and complain about everything.  Up until this generation, the voice of sports was pretty much coming from the media, but now with social media sites such as Twitter and facebook, the public now has a voice.  But in many cases, that’s just not a good thing because so many people just rush to rash conclusions and they just flat out complain too much.

The latest controversy that is on the verge of collapsing the roof on the sporting world is Justin Combs, the son of hip-hop mogul Sean “P Diddy” Combs (who is worth in the ballpark of $475 million), accepting a $54,000 football scholarship from UCLA.

So in essence, a rich kid is getting a free ride to college.  Oh the horror in that.  Some kid out there who doesn’t have the means to go to college is now going to be left without an education or a chance to play college football.

Ah…yeah, that’s really not the case.

An athletic scholarship is not financial aid.  It is not granted based on need.  It is given to a student-athlete in exchange for athletic services, and Combs is providing that.  This athletic service that football players provides generates millions of dollars through ticket sales, merchandise sales, and television ratings.  A portion of the generated funds is turned over to the school to construct new buildings, pay salaries, and run the institution of higher education.

Part of the funds that the football team generates is used for scholarships.  So even though UCLA is a state run university, taxpayer’s dollars are not used for these scholarships.  So California residents are not paying for Combs to attend UCLA.

Many of the complainers said that P Diddy should pay for his son’s tuition and that Combs can simply walk on the football team.  But that just does not make any sense.  When P Diddy provides a service, which would be in the entertainment industry, does he do it for free?  Ah, he’s worth $475 million, so that would be a “no!”

If P Diddy does not work for free, why would he expect his son to do so?  That’s just not how it works.  His son is in a group of athletes that generates a lot of money.  Many people complain that college athletes should be paid, so why would anybody expect an athlete to actually pay to be a part of this group?

Is Combs taking a spot from another athlete?  That’s really not relevant.  UCLA needs to pick the best possible athletes, and not the athletes who are in the most need.  If an athlete who was passed over in favor of Combs is that good, then that athlete will sign somewhere else (seeing how UCLA has been doing lately, that might be a good thing.)

The only people who should be complaining about this are UCLA fans, because Combs talents may be questionable.  When he was signed he was listed as a two-star athlete, and that is out of five stars.  Usually five-star athletes are recruited by every big time program across the nation.  Four-star athletes are also recruited by schools from around the nation.  Three-star athletes are usually recruited by schools in their region.  A three-star athlete in Southern California will normally be recruited within the PAC-12 and other western schools.

So why did UCLA go all the way across the country, all the way to New Jersey, to recruit a two-star athlete?  Usually two-star athletes stay close to home, and many are passed over by big time programs.

If UCLA wanted a two-star cornerback, they could have found a boatload of them at local high schools here in Los Angeles.

Since this story blew up, it has been reported that Combs is a three-star athlete, even though he has not played any games since UCLA signed him.  Even with three stars the question remains, why would they go all the way across the country for a three-star athlete?  Again, they can find a lot of those here in Los Angeles.

The answer to that question may be that UCLA is looking for a big time booster.  Getting P Diddy involved with the program could mean some big time checks.  If that is UCLA’s plan, UCLA fans should be happy with that!  USC takes advantage of their boosters, and UCLA needs to tap into donated funds to a much higher degree.

UCLA signed the son, and may have gotten the father.  Nothing wrong with that.  If that can help turn this program around, by all means, do it!  Because UCLA football has been bad for way too long now.

Combs will have to prove himself and shake the theory that he was signed so UCLA can get in good with his father.  Combs has his foot in the door, so he is going to have every opportunity to make his own way.  Developing into a Division I caliber athlete will shut everybody up.  Hopefully he will do better than Master P’s son Romeo, who accepted a basketball scholarship from USC.  Romeo played just two seasons, in 2010 and 2011, and only played a total of 19 minutes.  Seeing that USC is the worst basketball team in the PAC-12, they must not have maximized their partnership with Master P.

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