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For athletes? You must be kidding

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This is Christmas week, not April fools.

I’m beginning to think, though, that’s what college sports’ brass take us for — fools. 

Check out my latest video commentary or read below:

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

A college sports bigwig tells us, “It’s all about the student-athletes.”

So, you know that joke?

Me, too, and I’m not falling for it anymore.

Perhaps you had a chance to see Sunday’s edition of The Oklahoman. It had all you needed to see the hypocrisy of, “It’s all about the student-athletes.”

My counterpart Berry Tramel had the gut-wrenching story of Mike Reed. A year ago, the linebacker was the “it” football recruit at Oklahoma. He was a junior college superstar before signing with the Sooners.

Then, Reed seemed to disappear.

As Berry wrote, there was a good reason for that. Reed brought his family to Norman to live with him. A good and honorable thing. But when his wife got sick, Reed had to drop a few classes and became ineligible to play.

The family’s monthly income: $616.

The rent and electric bill cost about $630.

When the family sought help from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Reeds were told by OU that they shouldn’t take the assistance because it might be in violation of NCAA rules.

Elsewhere in Sunday’s newspaper was a special section entitled “Money bowl.” It was our annual bowl preview section, and this year, we turned our attention to the money involved in bowl games.

Some numbers to chew on:

Fox Sports will pay about $80 million to broadcast BCS games.The Big 12 will rake in more than $35 million in bowl payouts.

Bob Stoops will receive a $100,000 bonus for making a BCS bowl.

All of that money is floating around college football, and yet, Mike Reed can’t get a little help in keeping the lights on?

Perhaps athletes should be paid. Perhaps they shouldn’t. Perhaps there should be means by which special cases can get assistance. Perhaps not. Listen, I’m not sure what the right answer is, but I can tell you that the system as it is is wrong.

The conferences, the schools and the coaches keep getting richer and richer, but then you have an athlete like Mike Reed being told that he can’t take a few hundred bucks a month to buy food for his family.

College sports bigwigs should be ashamed of themselves.

“It’s all about the student-athletes”?

We’ve heard it before, and now, no one’s laughing.

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Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›