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Division 1 Football Scholarships - one way Servitude

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by qtlaw, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. qtlaw

    qtlaw Well-Known Member

    Check this out:


    Phil Taylor of CNNSI.COM

    If you remember the uplifting story of Ray Ray McElrathbey, the Clemson running back who rescued his younger brother from a bleak home life two years ago by bringing the boy to live with him and becoming his legal guardian, you may not want to know about the latest developments in his saga, which aren't nearly so heartwarming. This is the world of big-time college athletics and, sooner or later, that world almost always turns cold.

    McElrathbey first gained national attention in 2006, after taking over custody of his brother Fahmarr, who was 11 at the time. Fahmarr had been in and out of foster care in Atlanta for much of his childhood -- just as Ray Ray had -- because of their father's gambling problems and their mother's addiction to crack cocaine. Once McElrathbey was settled at Clemson with a football scholarship, he decided to help his little brother escape that life as well by giving Fahmarr a stable home -- his own.

    It was a sweet story made sweeter by the normally soulless NCAA, which granted the financially strapped McElrathbey a waiver allowing him to accept monetary aid from the university and the public in the form of a trust fund for Fahmarr, as well as home care from coaches' families for him while Ray Ray in class or at practice. McElrathbey was widely and deservedly praised for character and maturity beyond his years and Clemson was credited for having a football program with a heart.

    But that happy tale took a disheartening turn earlier this week when Clemson announced that McElerathbey's scholarship would not be renewed even though he has two more years of eligibility remaining. Contrary to popular belief, football scholarships are not guaranteed four-year rides, but year-to-year deals that can be pulled at the school's discretion.

    Although Clemson coach Tommy Bowden has been vague in his explanations, it appears that he pulled McElrathbey's scholarship because, after signing 25 new recruits last month, the Tigers had to take away some existing scholarships to stay under the NCAA maximum of 85. With several running backs ahead of him on the depth chart, Ray Ray became expendable. "We're pretty good at running back right now," coach Tommy Bowden said, as if that was the only issue.

    Cold-blooded? Heartless? You bet. Having one more scholarship to hand out isn't going to change Clemson's program in any significant way, but losing it certainly could change Ray Ray and Fahmarr's lives.

    Ray Ray now has the choice of transferring to another school to finish his eligibility (if he can find one willing to offer him a scholarship), or he could finish his degree requirements over the summer, enroll in graduate school at Clemson and accept an offer to become a football graduate assistant, a position that would pay for his tuition, but not his room and board.

    In short, the McElrathbey brothers' lives are again up in the air thanks to Bowden's lack of compassion. Apparently having an extra inside linebacker or tight end is more important to him than showing loyalty to a young man who has given three years of effort to the program -- to someone trying to raise a teenager.

    McElrathbey hasn't spoken publicly since the decision. Teammate and friend James Davis suggests he doesn't want to speak negatively about Clemson for fear it would discourage other schools from offering him a scholarship. If that's the case, at least it indicates that McElrathbey is planning on leaving Clemson behind, which is the smart thing to do, since Clemson has done exactly that to him.

    Fear not for the McElrathbey brothers. They have overcome far greater obstacles than this one, and it's unlikely that they will let Clemson's callous decision derail them for long.

    Whatever the future holds, Ray Ray should be remembered at Clemson as a young man who understood the meaning of commitment and character. A college is supposed to provide its students with an education but, in the end, it's a shame that Clemson's program didn't learn more from him.

    This stinks. If they are going to make it one year renewable, at the very minimum it has to be the same on the other side. Some lawyer needs to sue to stop this practice/monopoly and give the players more rights.

    Calling Edward Bennett III, anti-trust suit needed on pro bono basis.
  2. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Where's Marvin Miller when you need him?

    And if he were to transfer to another D-IA school (I'm not calling it Bowl Playoff Series CraP Division), the NCAA would make him sit out a year, AS LONG AS CLEMSON APPROVES OF THE SCHOOL. If he goes to a place that Clemson doesn't like, he has to sit out two years.

    But hey, coaches can leave their contracts anytime they want, right? And the kids aren't supposed to be going to the school because they like the coach, right? And kids are supposed to be playing for the love of the game and their school, right?

    As I've said in previous posts, someday, this will all change. Somebody is going to screw up royally, giving the athletes the motivation to organize. It happened with MLB, it happened with the Olympics. It'll happen to the NCAA someday too.
  3. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    Actually, the NCAA has been granting automatic eligibility in transfer cases much more frequently than in the past. If he hooks on with another school, and I bet he does, my guess is he'll play this fall.

    One of Tennessee's basketball players transferred from Iowa to be closer to his father who was dying. The NCAA granted him immediate eligibility to play this season.

    Scholarships in all sports are renewable each year. This isn't unique to football.
  4. qtlaw

    qtlaw Well-Known Member

    I was pointing out football because they are the largest revenue pool and the players are left hanging.

    The eligibility issue only addresses allowing the player to play, it does nothing about making the school honor a commitment to fund education for 4 years. That's the travesty; its a one way street.
  5. amraeder

    amraeder Well-Known Member

    I know in the Big Ten, you can only oversign a class by 3 and you have to explain how you're going to get those three scholarships freed up, such as Ryan Mallett is transferring of his own free will.
    At least in theory, it should keep shady stuff like this from happening. But is the Big Ten the only conf with rules like this? Anyone know?
  6. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    Schools aren't committing for four years. They're committing for one. Scholarships are renewed every year.

    How does football leave a kid hanging any more than any other sport?

    The kid is graduating in August, a year early, so it's not like he'll be without a degree.

    Is it unfair? Yeah I'd agree with that. But it's not like they're cutting him loose without him earning a degree.
  7. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    Every conference allows oversigning. That's not unique to the Big 10. And kids are "encouraged" to transfer all the time for this very reason.

    A coach tells a kid he's not going to play and it'd be in his best interest to move on. That's how it's done.
  8. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    TRUE. SEC schools oversign like crazy. And it is too bad.

    Players who have scholarships revoked for no good reason should be able to transfer free of penalty.

    And if I were a div-1 coach at a smaller school (MAC or C-USA) I would offer a scholarship to this player on the spot.
  9. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    The Big 10 is the strictest conference on oversigning.

    I don't know about the ACC, but from what I have read, the SEC is the worst.

    See Alabama's huge recruiting class for more proof.

    (I could really care less about Alabama, I'm not just targeting them, I'm sure it happens a lot of places)
  10. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    But the Big Ten ain't Southern football...
  11. amraeder

    amraeder Well-Known Member

    See that's what I was curious about. I hear it every now and then when the SEC takes on the Big Ten or around National Signing Day, that the SEC oversigns like crazy, and the Big Ten, well doesn't.
    So I was wondering what the Pac-10 and ACC rules were.
    Found this on the subject in the Columbus Dispatch
  12. franticscribe

    franticscribe Well-Known Member

    I can't see how Ray Ray is getting screwed here, other than maybe the timing. He wasn't playing and wasn't going to play. He got a scholarship that led to a degree. Clemson's giving him the chance to get another degree, if he wants, without laying out a penny for tuition.

    The school's also giving him an out to go play somewhere else, if that's what he wants.

    The trust fund set up for his brother should have enough cash to pay for their room and board if he decides to become a graduate assistant and it'll get them through until he's done with the master's and drawing a salary.

    Either way he leaves school with a debt-free degree, maybe two, and a small pile of cash to offset the expenses of taking care of his brother. That's not a terrible situation to be in.

    The fucked up thing is that Bowden over committed. I think schools should have to manage their scholarships better than that, so you're not telling a kid in the middle of spring practice that he's losing his. I don't know that there is a good time to yank a scholarship, but it seems like the end of the season is best. That gives the kid plenty of time to plan on going elsewhere, if that's what he or she wants.
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