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Dollars and sense of a funded college education

June 1, 2011
Weirton Daily Times

To pay, or not to pay? That is the question.

At least that's the question which is automatically raised any time NCAA infractions enter the sporting world of collegiate athletics, particularly when the NCAA's ax recently beheaded one of its most recognizable.

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel was forced into resignation Monday.

The origination point of the eventual departure began when six Buckeyes decided it was OK to forsake NCAA rules and sell their personal merchandise to a local shop owner in return for tattoos or cash.

It spit-balled from said point.

The subsequent lies and cover-up over what appears to be a long history of malfeasance became the actual roots to the downfall.

As a result, the withdrawal from one of the country's premiere institutions, both athletically and academically, once again brings cries of paying amateurs to deter this type of behavior.

It is a step which cannot be taken.

For those who haven't spent much time around a NCAA Division I-caliber program, instead spending more time on the recliner merely rooting for a team instead of actually attending the university, college athletes are paid.

Granted, what they do receive isn't tangible fiscal return. What they receive is an advantage over normal students attending the institution.

Ohio State is the example given, and thus a great starting point.

The current rate of attendance to be counted among the Buckeye brethren, according to Ohio State's official website, is $3,140 per quarter.

A typical academic year, excluding summer classes, is three quarters.

The final tally per year, without any added or hidden fees, is $9,420.

If that same number is extrapolated over four year span, an Ohio State Buckeye football player is allotted $37,680 worth of education for free after he signs his letter of intent.

But wait, there's more.

That aforementioned number was merely the cost of tuition.

Factor in years of free residence, clothing, food, travel expenses and tutors (whose only jobs are to help athletes).

Room and board more than doubles the previous amount.

A full year of university housing is $10,164.

Four years of paid housing equates to $40,656.

Working purely on the four-year plan, an athlete is awarded $78,336 for his or her services.

If he or she attends for a fifth year, as many athletes do after being redshirted, the number jumps to $97,920.

And if anyone cares to visit the team shop on Ohio State's official site, a typical Nike sponsored T-shirt ranged from $19.95 to $24.95. One of Nike's speed fly performance shirts will run a purchaser $39.95.

If each football player is given a single pair of the items every season (and frankly, that is truly underselling what each athlete gets), the tally would register $4,624.70 among Ohio State's 103-person roster.

That's the program's expense on merely one T-shirt and a workout shirt. It doesn't include multiple sets of each, shorts, sanitaries or anything else added to sweeten the clothing pot for each individual athlete.

A meal plan on campus, sticking with the traditional version offered by OSU, is another $3,510 per year. It adds $14,040 during a four-year period.

Tuition plus room and board plus meals equals $115,470, if an athlete requires five years to graduate.

This is a number based of a state-sponsored school with massive attendance rates.

If Notre Dame were used in this example, the number would skyrocket past $200,000 with four years attendance and nearly $300,000 if a fifth year is required, according to its official website.

Then come the tricks of the trade. Seeing these things occur firsthand at Division I school really drives home the point.

Athletes work the system by gaining extra spending money on the side due to over-scheduling and the accompanying books. A normal scholarship tends to cover a certain amount. Athletes will schedule according to the amount and then drop what classes they don't need, while still remaining full time, to pocket the difference.

Football players are also handed a small amount of money to spend after each game.

These are the nuts and bolts of the the situation.

In the end, if these athletes keep their heads on straight and take advantage of what is presented before them, they will leave campus with one of the finest educations afforded in this country without having to repay a dime.

So while these "poor" athletes are allotted every opportunity to succeed, excuse many of us who have to go home and write out this month's student loan payment check.

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