This appears in the Monday, April 21, 2014 edition of the Business Mirror.
The last hope for the student-athlete
by rick olivares
Lost amidst the controversial residency rules in college sports is an insidious practice that ruins lives.
Some schools because of their win at all costs mentality take away the scholarships of athletes who do not come away with a medal by season’s end. Furthermore, when it’s time for them to leave school or even graduate, they are charged with all these miscellaneous fees for food, training fees and others that they had never heard of during their time in school. It’s like getting this mobile phone plan only for you to find out that there are all these hidden charges.
It isn’t only true of student-athletes who stay behind but for also those who opt to transfer to other schools for different reasons. Their “release” is contingent upon being in the good graces of a top school official or else they’ll pay up.
Now many of these kids cannot afford to pay for their tuition that is why a scholarship means a lot to them so what more these fees? Some of the “back charges” go up all the way to six figures! Many cannot pay hence they leave school or aren’t able to get their transcript of records or their diploma.
What makes this even more maddening is this is not true for ALL athletes but is levied on a few.
I can understand a student-athlete getting thrown out of the team for disciplinary and academic reasons but because of their inability to win? What are these school administrators and athletic officials teaching these kids?
They have to remember that the reason why these student-athletes went to them in the first place is because of that badly needed scholarship. I am willing to bet that had it been bared that should an student-athlete decide to transfer or not win at all and they’d have to pay for all these miscellaneous fees they would not go to these schools.
The problem is they only find out about this when it happens causing all sorts of problems.
This isn’t the first time I have bared this problem. I have heard of this practice from different athletes first-hand for years now and have seen a few of them go back home to their province with their dreams crushed.
There is a climate of fear that prevents many of these student-athletes from coming out and sharing their problems. They do not come from well-heeled families. They do not have any power and they are up against people in authority and you know how difficult a fight like that can be.
I wrote about this years ago and have earned the ire of some of these schools’ officials.
Fortunately, now that Senators Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and Cynthia Villar have drafted and are pushing for the passing of Senate Bills to protect the student-athlete, these schools and leagues are on the run. And what better timing than to bring this issue to the top once more so that a provision may be written into the Senate Bill.
Provisions should be made for its implementation and oversight. There must be a venue or a vehicle for student-athletes (or even the regular student) to seek guidance and help with their situations related to this. All student-athletes should know what they are walking into and what the scholarship entails. What if they transfer? Are there any hidden charges? Are all these items in the fine print?
Furthermore, this Senate Bill should be distributed to schools and student-athletes all over the country so they are aware of their rights and what they can do.
It is rather infuriating that every year some controversy crops up in college sports. The leagues never learn. Why? Because they are not qualified to run a league. They seem to think that athletic greatness (when they were in school) or being an administrator or owner = competence to run a league/s.
No way! Not when everyone puts their own school’s interest first and above all.
We are appalled by the treatment of our overseas workers but do not seem overly concerned with many unfair labor practices by top corporations or even the poor examples being set by an amateur competition gone wrong. We turn a blind eye to this. Only when a foreigner tramples upon our rights does this so-called Filipino pride boil to the surface. What about these domestic problems?
The rights of students and student-athletes may be infinitesimal compared to other problems and concerns of wider scope but remember that this is in a school setting. The young copy what they see from others.
The Senate Bills #2166 (Magna Carta of Student-Athletes) and #1252 (Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act) is perhaps the student-athletes’ last hope.
If it doesn’t work I do not want to shake my head and dejectedly mutter, “It’s hopeless. Hopeless.”