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The McKeever Brothers, Marlin and Mike were linebackers for the USC Trojans in 1960. The McKeever Brothers were renowed for being hard drinking, hard brawling, hard playing football players. They were twin brothers who both had no necks. Their heads seemed to appear connected directly to their shoulders and they were scary looking guys. This was the 2nd year of Coaching for John McKay. At the Friday night bonfire rallys on 28th Street…..the Row…..thousands of students, teachers and alumni showed up to see the great celebrities of a USC Football program which had started out 6 and 5 the first year of McKay’s tenure. Lynn Gaskill, was the very handsome running back, – who was actually married and was on crutches. He had been injured in practice. Judy Primrose was the girlfriend of either Mike or Marlin McKeever……a beautiful platinum blonde sorority girl who drove the white convertible. The rumour was that they were going to rename “Fraternity and Sorority Row” to “Primrose Lane”. The handsome back-up quarterback Pete Beathard just hung out with any sorority girl he wanted – very low key and a really great guy. Bill Nelson and Craig Fertig were the pretenders to the throne as far a quarterbacks go. Neither one was particularly friendly – but that didn’t matter. The quarterbacks in the early 60′s mostly just handed off the ball to a running back who went “Student Body Left or Student Body Right”.
Fast forward to today, 2014. College Athletic Competitions are covered by more media than you can shake a stick at. Track and Field, Women’s Basketball, College Baseball, March Madness Basketball, College Football and even College Wrestling. College Sports are a multi-billion dollar American business. That energy has filtered down to the High School level and even NFL scouts are now scouting every type of junior athlete around starting at the Pee Wee level, all the way to the CIF finals of almost every sport. Interviews are made, parents are contacted, colleges recruit, alumni make overtures, even some schools are overly supportive of their Coaches and Players. Pro Scouts get around to even the smallest high school or grammar school, plus the various community leagues to check out the talent.
Meanwhile, back in 1960-1961, between having other people help the McKeevers do their school work and arrange beer bust and fraternity parties at the various schools they visited playing football – on the road, the McKeevers needed cash to get by on. The University had a Job Placement Office for students that needed financial support. You could show up at the Job Placement Office and fill out an application. Some people got jobs, some didn’t based on need. Well, one day about five USC Football players were seen with their elbows on the end of their rakes, in front of Tommy Trojan. Their job…..rake those leaves! The boys even got to fill out their own timecards. This is called “perks of being a USC Football player”. Their pay was enough to keep them in beer and books and they never complained much about any of it.
Fast forward to today, 2014. Local Car Dealers and Alumni Business folks around the country make sure that local athletes have good transportation, adequate “walking around money”, paid junkets to exotic locations and invitations to many a great social event. If they belong to a Fraternity, or they are a female sports star in a Sorority….alumni brothers and sisters make sure that their needs are taken care of, sometimes in the extreme. As you watch college sporting events on television, be sure to notice the various logos of sponsors on their uniform gear. Their shoes, their jerseys, their head-bands or their shorts! What this means is that “someone is getting a spiff”. That “spiff” can come either directly or through a third or fourth party. Some college sports allow their students to receive a “stipend” for community service, such as speaking at the local Rotary Club. The student, fills out his “time card” and someone eventually gets it. Maybe money is sent to the mom, brother, sister or dad. Maybe, rebates are given for turning in books. The list goes on and on. The whole college sports concept is riddled with pay-offs, back-fill and double dealing.
When Reggie Bush was forced to return his Heisman Trophy after it was found that he was driving a borrowed New Pick-Up Truck and that his mom and dad had been living in a house that someone provided to them without rent – USC Lost three Championship Seasons of accomplishments. They not only lost all that but were denied 30 scholarships for five years by the NCAA enforcement staff. Of course, they remarkably missed all the things that had happened at the University of Florida, Georgia Tech and others – by giving them a simple slap on the wrist. When “Football Johnny Manzeil”, was found to have been selling and signing thousands of dollars of memorabilia – he got the first half of the first game of the season off. ”Football Johnny” did not lose his Heisman Trophy and basically laughed off the entire issue.
College athletes are being compensated, but the sad thing is that the lovely NCAA, who is supposed to be the guardians of seemless unpaid competition in college athletics………continues to “screw the pooch”! Now, they want in their wisdom to offer “Compensation Packages” for College athletes. The best analogy we can draw is someone that can’t build a paper airplane and wants to create the next “Man to Mars Program”. Any paid compensation that is allowed by the NCAA will only accelerate to more corruption and wrong doing than can be imagined. Opening the gates to Organized Crime with impunity might not be the best strategy to keep College Athletics clean.
The truth is that most college athletes do not become professional athletes. Even those that make it to the NFL, only average 3.6 years before ability or injury removes them from the process. The NBA has a little longer lifespan as well as the Major League Baseball. In any event, recurrent injury usually takes their career paths away from professional sports long before the are emotionally ready to leave. The point is, that should the NCAA determine that a “College Athlete Compensation Package” be acceptable – we will be looking at “Compensation Packages for High School and Grammar School Students” as well, which will negatively impact our entire society. The unintended consequences of this concept would be unthinkable. Too many high school and college athletes come from under-privileged backgrounds. Drugs and gangs being a major determinate. Poor families where the money might not or ever get to the athlete.
There is little doubt however that NCAA needs Federal oversight. An enforcement branch of the Federal Government needs to be in charge of paying great attention to the doings of high school and college sports in this country.
In the meantime: NO PAYDAY FOR COLLEGE PLAYERS! EVER!