Gladiators & Spectators – Then & Now

Gladiators
BobLee
November12/ 2019


BobLee logo
Nov 11, 2019

Gladiators & Spectators – Then & Now

***

Two seemingly unrelated events occurred recently that led me to a startling conclusion.  On the surface that conclusion might sound OMG, can even BobLee dare to say THAT !!!  but…

If you follow the If A > B > C logic you may find yourself agreeing with me… as most of you tend to do any way.

Pay College Athletes

The subject is The Ongoing Brouhaha Re: Paying College Athletes

Several weeks ago The Carolina Junction Boys were recognized on the artificial turf of Not Kenan The Racist But Some Other Kenan Memorial Stadium.  That prompted me to rerun my column about The Junction Boys and to indulge in some reminiscing about “those days” 50 years ago.

While I knew all of those guys, I did not know the particulars of their individual circumstances.  They were – in Spring 1967 – All “White Boys”.  I did know that.

UNCCH Football’s color barrier was breached in the Fall of 1967 with 2-3 AfAm athletes and a steady diversification quickly followed… as was the case throughout The ACC and Southern Football.

NOTE:  Remember that last sentence.  It comes into play down-page.

In those days a full athletic scholarship – called “a grant-in-aid”? – included room, board (3 meals/day), tuition, books and $15/month  AKA “laundry money”.  Yes, they actually got $15/month.  I don’t recall if it was in cash / check / rolls of quarters or postage stamps… but each player on scholarship got his $15/month.

Those not on full scholarship received various pieces of that package… usually a room @ Ehringhaus (The Jock Dorm) and some meals.  I do not recall what a semester’s tuition at UNCCH was in the late 60s.  I’m going to guess $1,500 – 2,000.   Considerably less than it is 50 years later… but everything else was less too.

I never heard any complaints about a full scholarship not being enough.

By NCAA decree that package – in 1969 – was what ALL NCAA “student-athletes” received… be it OJ Simpson @ USC … Lew Alcindor @ UCLA … Terry Hanratty @ Notre Dame … Steve Spurrier @ Florida … Chuck Amato @ NC State … Leo Hart @ Duke … et al.

Tuitions were different at private schools vs public schools as is the case today; but that $$$ difference was of no consequence to the student-athletes then… as it is of no consequence today.   Wonder how many “student-athletes” have a clue what the tuition is at the school they play for?

Among The C-Junction Boys there was a range of home situations relative to income.  Several players fathers were physicians… several were coaches /teachers… farmers… assorted small business owners and perhaps even a few butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.  Most players had cars on campus… GTOs were popular.  Likely a few were from “lower income” situations but it was not obvious by clothing or other visible indicators.

The father of a UNC Baseball player of that time was CEO of Chevrolet Division of General Motors.  “Bill” received a new Corvette each Spring.  Bill was a nice guy and no one resented his circumstance.

This was The late 60s … The Civil Rights Act was being passed.  Integration was the order of the day across America… both in K-12 and in colleges.Jackie Robinson

Prior to the late 60s, there WERE some AfAm student-athletes playing Major College Football.  Jackie Robinson was a star RB at UCLA in 1939… Jim Brown / Ernie Davis at Syracuse… Bubba Smith / George Webster at Michigan State… and others.   Very few, if any, at ACC, SEC or Big Eight schools.

Prentice Gautt was the first AfAm FBer at Oklahoma in the late 50s.  I got to know Prentice while at MIZZOU in the early 70s.  Incredibly nice fellow.

White or Black… what an athletic “grant-in-aid” consisted of was universal then… and now.  I’m pretty sure that $15/mo “laundry money” increased over the years.  Athletic dorms were outlawed in the late 70s as schools were constructing lavish living quarters as “sign with us” incentives; not unlike the charging stations / IPF silliness we see today.   Allowances for off-campus apartments have replaced “the room in the Jock Dorm” that the Junction Boys endured.

.

WHAT HAS CHANGED is … the economic circumstances of a significant % of Major College Football and MBB student-athletes. 

AfAm athletes now dominate the two Major College “Revenue Sports” . … from minimal % in the early 70s to well over 65% in FB and over 85% in MBB…

That 65% in FB is considerably higher if only the two-deep depth chart is counted.  The 85% in MBB is higher if one does not count “the biscuit boys” on the far end of the bench.

***

NOTE:  WHAT HAS NOT CHANGED is … the dominant ethnicity of Fat Cat Boosters / Howler Monkeys / and Mainstream Fans.  Stadiums are still “whiter” than a Jonas Brothers / Taylor Swift Concert.  THAT is a discussion for another day…

***

Apparently – and I have no reason to doubt it…

The economic circumstances of a high % of today’s Major College AfAm athletes is considerably less “comfortable” than for white athletes 20-30-40-50 years ago or today... allowing for whatever degree of inflation.

The Whys are beyond my depth of Cultural Economics.  Single parent homes etc etc etc are certainly among the many segregating factors.

Yet… the NCAA Definition of A Full Athletic Scholarship has NOT changed to react to this Radical Socio-Cultural Sea-Change.

.

Two Major Stories broke last week involving High-Profile College Athletes – both AfAm.. Arguably the nation’s #1 Defensive player – TheOhio State’s Chase Young … and Memphis’ 5-Star One & Done James Wiseman were both suspended indefinitely.

Both Reasons Why involved convoluted $$$-transfers… “loans” ??? made to the players and/or to their families in the course of their being recruited.  Not quite what NC State is dealing with with Dennis Smith and the Adidas dirty $$$; but in the same general category.

As is always the case… it is a matter of semantics and lots of “we didn’t know…” and “but but but…”.  In both cases, resolutions will be protracted and unsatisfying to all concerned.

Highly recruited AfAm College Athletes and shady $$$$ transactions have become such a daily occurrence in recent decades, we hardly pay attention any more.  The prominence of these two last week being the exception.

When a family’s rent / food / clothing are in doubt week-week… the offer of “a lot of $$$” is seen as a Godsend rather than as a bribe.  “A lot of $$$” is a relative term.

Many/most highly-recruited AfAm athletes ARE Majoring in Eligibility hoping for a pro career ever how long those odds.  In too many cases, public education has failed to provide them with basic Life Skills … Yes, Mary Willingham WAS RIGHT about the alarming level of functional illiteracy.

.

For a Junction Boy in 1969… the “barter” of his sports skills for a college education was a very fair deal.   If his family was not well-to-do, that $$$ his family was saving went towards a car or other nice necessities during his 4-years.

For an AfAm college athlete from “impoverished circumstances” in 2019 … that “barter” does not pay the rent or put food on the table for his family back home… much less allow for “nice necessities” during his 3-4 years at college.

I still do not have a definitive solution to Paying College Athletes.

Now we have Academic Bureaucrats AND Pandering Politicians jumping in to the quandary.  So When All is Said and Done” … A Lot More will be Said than Done.  Of that we can all be certain.

***

Has the above given you food for thought?  Feel free to challenge my premise, if you dare!

Oh… For those NC State howler monkeys screeching on Twitter about ESPN (or Swofford) purposely putting the Clemson / State game on National TV because ESPN always wants to embarrass NC State blah blah blah.

The game was on ABC.  Just sayin’…

***

More BobLeeSays Commentaries – CLICK!

.

BobLee

33
Leave a Reply

avatar
10 Comment threads
23 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
14 Comment authors
BobLeeBM. JunctionBoyOldAlphaWolfDeacJoeQueen City Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
BM. JunctionBoy
Guest
BM. JunctionBoy

BobLee: it is hard for me to distinguish between the Pro game and College game now-a-days. So from my perspective, here are my gripes. Players are growing in one direction and their fans are moving in the other. ie. The American Flag and Silent Sam. The average student in College vs the Player: 65% of College grads are now female, the major college student athlete SAT scores have got to be substantially below the average student (even more than in our era). The Pro game cost is close to absurd. The major College game rarely considers the “fan” inconvenience is… Read more »

Queen City
Guest
Queen City

I think the simple solution would be to let the kids turn pro anytime they wish. They can assume the risk of college sports ineligibility if the professional route does not pan out if they decide to enroll in college at some point. In this scenario coaches may be better off avoiding the early outs to the pros and focus on kids that would most likely stay for 4 years. Ideally at some point you would have a starting roster of Jr’s & Sr’s.

Dr Wire
Guest

It is so ironic . The sports media conventional wisdom bullies it’s way into the “paying atheletes” discussion with the following ad nausem logic . Dabo & Nick make $9 million. This really just exposed their envy and ignores the fact that “paying athletes” will further the escalation of coach’s pay because the best coaches will be the best at “paying athletes”. . The colleges are making so much money off TV. Yet only a few Athletic departments have a surplus to return to the General fund. Clemson uses their funds for only 15 sports much like the many SEC… Read more »

Robert Kennel
Guest
Robert Kennel

A little earlier in the mid-50’s Coach Edwards and Coach Sorrell helped me get a $4000 Talent for Service scholarship which covered everything at $1000 per year. Even allowed me to have a 1950 Willy Jeep station wagon.
I drove it up to Nova Scotia to play summer baseball in 1955 and roomed with Duke All-American track and football star Dave Sime. He died several years ago but is grandfather of Christian McCafferty.
Not giving up on State at all and looking forward to Tar Heel game in 3 weeks. Carter-Finley will rock !!

NCSU68Grad
Guest
NCSU68Grad

BL, You are a bit off in the UNC Tuition. Per a chart, which is easy to Google, the TUITION (per semester) at UNC was $175. I remember that when i started at NCSU in the fall of 1963, the TOTAL estimated cost of attendance (Tuition, Room, Meals, Books, etc.) but NOT including any “spending cash” was around $1250 or so. That was a number that ingrained in my by my parents….in that they had saved $5,000 for my education. . As to the GAME. It was not a game. It was a repayment of a stupid drunken political bet.… Read more »

MAPackfan
Guest
MAPackfan

Wait. You DO know that ABC owns ESPN. Right?

Former96heel
Guest
Former96heel

The under the table side will never disappear as long as someone holds value, a deep pocket will find a way to seek the player. . I know 25 years ago, tuition for a semester at the flagship ran from $650-800. One semester, books were more expensive than actual tuition. To me, the travesty is that the state has allowed tuition to spiral upward so far, so quickly. To think the state constitution calls for higher ed to be free, as far as practical. That the powers that be allowed the overhead to swell so much that tuition is now… Read more »

Doug
Guest
Doug

Cannot wait for politicians to move from grant-in-aid to pay-to-play legislation. After all they’ve done such a fine job with healthcare, education, taxes, balancing the budget, and cutting Federal spending. . NCSU-Clemson? Oh yeah it was all pre-ordained back in May. Swofford ordained that Clemson would be undefeated heading into the matchup. The close call in Chapel Hill was pre-determined as well. Sofford then ordered ACC refs to make sure State College would be struggling before the game was played. . Then in secret coordination with the CFP committee, also back in May, it was agreed to rank Clemson #5… Read more »

Jim wilkins
Guest
Jim wilkins

I was one of the lucky ones that had “it all”….$15/mo, tuition, even pencils (which I always cheated on)….and was grateful! Got it under Willis Casey who believed you earned it. Three sports a year , 4 years that’s it! Go where we say, run what we say and be grateful. I was and am still….your point is right on about the change in recipients….maybe retribution is a better word for pay outs. Can’t believe I said it. Amazing how guilty we feel. J Wilkins

Jon Ham
Guest
Jon Ham

Line of the year: “So When all is said and done … A lot more will be said than done.” Ha!