College Football: UCLA, Justin Combs and the Issue of Favoritism

Craig ForrestalContributor IIIJune 2, 2012

Justin Combs and Sean "Diddy" Combs
Justin Combs and Sean "Diddy" Combs

Justin Combs had scholarship offers from UCLA, Virginia, Illinois and other Division I programs, according to his profile.

After mulling the decision, Combs elected to take his talents to UCLA.

The undersized cornerback from Iona Prep in New York state has become the topic of a hot debate: Should the children of financially stable families be excluded from athletic scholarships?

I say no.

For those of you who are unaware of the controversy with Combs, his father is Sean "Diddy" Combs. Yes, the musical mogul who has moved his enterprise into fashion, restaurants and liquor. "Diddy" has an estimated net worth of $550 million.

The cost of the tuition at UCLA is a price that "Diddy" would consider to be a lunch. While the prices listed vary for UCLA tuition, my guess is Justin Combs' scholarship is worth a little over $54,000.

The question at hand is not whether Justin Combs' father can afford the tuition bill; rather, is Justin Combs a UCLA-caliber athlete?

If the UCLA coaches extended an offer to the kid, they must have seen something that got them excited. There are other examples of children with famous parents who have received athletic scholarships and nobody cried foul. The following is a list of children with famous parents who have gone on to play a college sport on scholarship:

Mike Golic (NFL)—sons Mike and Jake both play football at Notre Dame

Joe Montana (NFL)—son Nick plays football at Washington

Tim Hardaway (NBA)—son Tim plays basketball at Michigan

Glen Rice (NBA)—son Glen plays basketball at Georgia Tech

Master P (Rapper/almost NBA player)—son Romeo Miller played basketball at USC for two years

Calvin Hill (NFL)—son Grant played basketball for Duke and NBA

Ken Griffey, Jr. (MLB)—son Trey will play football at Arizona

That is just a small list of people who could have gone to school without the help of a scholarship. Think about Andrew Luck—his father, Oliver, played in the NFL and is the athletic director at West Virginia University. Did Andrew Luck need the scholarship?

What about Peyton and Eli Manning? Their father, Archie, could have paid for his sons to go to school if they had not earned a scholarship.

And that is the key word. Earned.

The younger Combs has put in the work on the field and off (he had 3.75 GPA at Iona Prep).

Nobody cried foul when Romeo Miller was used to secure the commitment of his close friend DeMar DeRozan at USC. Tim Floyd has even loosely admitted that there was a reason for the Romeo Miller offer. The linked article from The Wall Street Journal makes note of a conversation between Master P and Floyd (USC hoops coach at the time).

Romeo Miller- former USC basketball player
Romeo Miller- former USC basketball playerJeff Golden/Getty Images

Now, if you want to talk about not earning a scholarship and getting by on favors/favoritism, the Romeo Miller circumstance serves as case in point.

Having financially well-off parents should not restrict you from being recognized for your athletic accomplishments. That would be like telling a child who was valedictorian of his high school class with a near-perfect ACT or SAT score that he could not receive an academic scholarship because his mother is a successful heart surgeon and father is a high-profile attorney.

How does that make sense?

Suggesting that Justin Combs should have declined the UCLA scholarship sends a horrible message.

People should be joyous of the fact that a child from a lifestyle of luxury is determined to accomplish things on his own and not ride on the name of his father. Justin Combs is attempting to make a name for himself and create his own image. Why people do not want to see him do that is beyond my comprehension.

Say what you want about "Diddy," but put yourself in his shoes. Would you rather feed your child $100 bills on a daily basis or see your child grab life by the horns and make his own way?