by Josh Kipnis
Time and time again, evidence has indicated that college athletics are a corrupt system. Coaches are constantly violating the NCAA’s recruiting rules, and players are accepting illegal benefits from booster and alumni programs. Sharrif Floyd, defensive tackle for the University of Florida, has been the center of the latest controversy.
Recently, Floyd played in his first game of the 2011 college football season. Unfortunately for him, his first game was not synonymous with his team’s opener.
"The toughest day that I have had as a head football coach at Florida was the day that I had to tell Sharrif that he could not play in our game vs. FAU,” said Will Muschamp. “He had tears in his eyes and said, 'What have I done wrong?' I told him he did nothing wrong.
Floyd was ruled ineligible for the first two games of the season by NCAA officials for what they deemed was a violation of their “preferential treatment rules.”
While the NCAA makes this case, Muschamp’s attitude remains on the opposite side of the spectrum. “I have recruited kids that did not know where they would sleep that night or what they would eat,” Muschamp commented. “There is nothing preferential about his (Floyd’s) life.”
The reason for this mess? In high school, Floyd received a total of $2,500 throughout his senior year from a non-profit organization called the Student Athlete Mentoring Foundation.
First of all, is it not the goal of non-profit organizations and foundations, like this one, to help those in need? Floyd’s childhood is the exact reason why people donate their time and money to such causes. Second, how is Sharrif Floyd’s case any different from any other high school student who receives aid from the foundation, or any other foundation? So because Floyd possesses a gift to play football, quite possibly the only positive aspect of his life, he should be ruled ineligible to receive these beneficiary funds? How can the NCAA mess up this badly?
NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs, Kevin Lennon, had this to say on the matter: “We examine each situation carefully and consider all elements related to a student-athlete’s individual circumstances and the violation.” If this is truly the case, I am that much more angered with the NCAA. Mr. Lennon, you are telling me that you and the rest of the people ruling on this case knew that Floyd may starve, or even sleep on the streets, and that you still went ahead and said it is unfair that he accepted that money?
“In my opinion, Sharrif is getting lumped into what is bad about college athletics…Sharrif is what is good about college athletics—his life is about survival, struggle, disappointment, and adversity,” says coach Will Muschamp.
I could not agree more with Muschamp. The NCAA has pulled out the chair from under Floyd. Instead of celebrating Floyd’s success and his incredible determinism in life’s most difficult circumstances, the NCAA has stolen the spotlight.