The adventures of Captain Obvious, Vol. 1: Arian Foster admits to receiving money while playing football at the University of Tennessee.

Fletch mattress policeI’ve bent a few rules in my day.

I’ve cut the tags off of mattresses even though the good people who manufacture those mattresses have instructed me not to do so.  Aside from Fletch, their enforcement is kind of lax.

I leap headfirst into pools when the tiles alongside them clearly read “NO DIVING!”

I have the good sense to understand that some rules are simply meant to be broken.

So apparently, does Arian Foster, former University of Tennessee Volunteer and current Houston Texans star running back.

In a recent interview, Foster broke code by saying he received benefits while enrolled at Tennessee.

“I don’t know if this will throw us into an NCAA investigation — my senior year (2008), I was getting money on the side.  I really didn’t have any money.   I had to either pay the rent or buy some food.  I remember the feeling of like, ‘Man, be careful.’ But there’s nothing wrong with it.  And you’re not going to convince me that there is.”

Let’s be perfectly clear about a few things before we judge Mr. Foster for speaking his mind or taking handouts.  Arian Foster is one of the smartest guys currently playing in the NFL.  He is well-spoken, introspective, polite and extremely talented.  He also, apparently, has a conscience.

Arian FosterYears ago, Foster was a student athlete enrolled at a major university in desperate need of financial assistance.  And he took it.  Foster is neither the first student athlete to ‘receive benefits’ whether large or small nor will he be the last.

Foster continued:  “They really have us hoodwinked into thinking taking money is wrong as a college athlete.  It’s wrong for us, but it’s not wrong for them.  I guarantee every NCAA official has a (BMW) or Benz or something.  That’s not wrong, but it’s wrong for me to get $20 to get something to eat?  Dez Bryant couldn’t get taken out to dinner by Deion Sanders, his mentor, he sat out a whole season because of that?  That’s not wrong?  But if you can drive around in a Benz, that’s OK?  It’s not right.”

So Foster took money.  Worse crimes have been committed, more notably the profit margins that major universities, and the NCAA for that matter, make off their student athletes.   For those of you who don’t know, it’s infinitely times more than the few bucks a coach might give a player for a taco or two.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a UT alum, or a graduate of any major university for that matter, who is offended that a booster from their alma mater loaned a kid $500 for walk-around money.  In fact, they’d be more offended if they didn’t!  Those secret handshakes are nothing compared to the billions (with a B) these institutions bring in thanks to athletes like Foster.

It’s why Ed O’Bannon and several other former athletes are suing the NCAA for using their likeness for profit.  They have a pretty good case.  The NCAA has become the epitome of hypocrisy, far more concerned with the money their athletes earn than the degrees.

I’ve thought long and hard about whether student athletes should be reimbursed financially for their efforts, in addition to the tuition, room and board they already receive.  While the promise of future millions (for a rare few) might be payment enough, most athletes don’t have the time to work, practice, study, socialize and do everything else that’s involved with being a college student.

Reggie Bush USCWhen it comes to big-time college athletics, I’m inclined to say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  If a booster wants to buy a kid a car or hook him up with a side job or even get him laid, then so be it.  Reggie Bush mansions are a little over the top but if some local businessman wants to loan a kid a car to get around town, is that a sin?  Now if that kid proceeds to drive that car into a tree, that’s on him.  But to buy a kid a meal?  Trust me when I tell you, a steady diet of dorm food and Ramen noodles becomes pretty damn stale.

In retrospect, perhaps the NCAA has been right all along.  After all, they’re the ones who have turned a blind eye to what goes on behind the closed doors of high-profile college programs, knowing they’re the ones reaping the biggest benefit.  Sure, USC had wins vacated and Reggie Bush was stripped of his Heisman but how much money did the NCAA earn when millions of us watched Bush light up the football field?  I don’t recall them having to give any of it back.

There’s no dust pan big enough to “clean up” college athletics.  There will always be those secret handshakes and good old boy booster networks doing what they can to woo high school prospects to their neck of the woods.  Let’s shelve our naiveté and pick and choose our battles.

I commend Foster for clearing the air, as long as his confession doesn’t entirely upset the applecart.  I’m not too concerned that it will.  The NCAA has too much to lose.

27 thoughts on “The adventures of Captain Obvious, Vol. 1: Arian Foster admits to receiving money while playing football at the University of Tennessee.

  1. Pingback: The adventures of Captain Obvious, Vol. 1: Arian Foster admits to receiving money while playing football at the University of Tennessee. - BallHyped Blog Network, NCAA Football | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. I gotta be honest, I”m getting really tired of these stories. SI had their 5-part series on Oklahoma State that really didn’t seem to tell me anything I didn’t already know. All the stories seem essentially the same and i’m going to be tired of them until they actually do something about it.

  3. Paying college players has been going on for a very long time. I was on the fence about this, but now I say pay the kids and quit pretending they are there for an education.

  4. Exactly, CR.

    So what’s the story then?

    As fans, do we or do we not want all the details?

    And if we knew them, would we think any differently of the sport.

    To quote Colonel Jessup, Chris, “You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.”

  5. Aer…

    Did you hear Dicky V’s rant?

    Apparently he tweeted comments comparing Foster to a prostitute.

    The guy’s been around college athletics for over fifty years and now he wants to get all high and mighty?

    Spare me, Dick.

  6. Arian Foster admits to taking money and admits in his own words ” me’s hungry ” . Dez Bryant totally denies taking cash or gifts at Oklahoma St . This being the same kid who assaulted his mother and then completely denied it . Who are we meant to believe ?

    tophatal ………..

  7. Al…

    Foster probably didn’t do himself any justice by linking himself to Dez but regardless, he has a point.

    If the kids can barely afford to eat, isn’t it a touch unfair that the fat cats in the NCAA are dining on chateaubriand?

  8. The very same fat cats who also dole $100,000 donations to Congressmen ( Issa and Waxman ) of both political parties to make sure that the antitrust and tax-exempt status remains in tact for the NCAA, BCS and a number of college philanthropic foundations . So in a plain simple mantra what the ##ck do I care !

    Shaq must’ve taken one hit too many to the head as he just bought himself a stake in the Sacramento Kings’ ownership group.

    tophatal ………

  9. A discussion on the paying of athletes may be appropriate. The social aspect of the argument weighs heavily towards doing so. Fairness for all.

    Here is the conundrum: How much do you pay the individual player? Does a third stringer make the same as the starter at the same position? If so, why? If not, why?

    There would be a hidden benefit to injuring the guy playing ahead of you in practice where refs aren’t always around to adjudicate, if different pay scales exist.

    Should quarterbacks make more than right tackles? Would not that seemingly valid question rear its ugly head sooner than later?

    The devil here is truly in the details. Boosters would still find ways to favor the favorites.

    Continue the discussion. College athletics is the last vestige of amateur athletics, sullied tho it may be. I’ll pass judgement on the question of payment when all the facts are in, analyzed and made totally public.

    I’d want a panel of trustworthy, neutral, very smart people to present findings as the worthiness of the proposal. That panel may include professors but not coaches. They have too much at stake.

  10. My point Chris , who cares anymore ?

    Will the NCAA and clean up the mess ? Well , based on the Infractions Committee’s investigation of the Canes’ program , there is more chance of you being elected POTUS (President of the United States) than there is, that Miami will be punished for their transgressions and repeated violations of NCAA rules . ” Mr President , your 12 pm appointment with a young female intern named Debbie is here, and she’s waiting in the Oval Office for your orders ”

    Sad news about the death of boxer Ken Norton (70) ! His health in recent years had taken a turn for the worse, having survived a near fatal car crash , encountered some serious injuries , including head trauma , never mind the issues brought on from his fight career . His trilogy with Ali , thought great , was not in the class as Muhammad Ali’s epic three fight saga with Joe Frazier .

    God, no more truly great fighters to appreciate from that era , as they are now either dead , mentally and physically incapable of looking after themselves ., The exception may well be George Foreman .

    Are the Broncos likely to blowout the Raiders when they meet tonight Mile High Stadium in Denver , Colorado ? Hint, if the Raiders didn’t watch the game tape of the Broncos against the Ravens , then I think that we can expect more of the same , especially with that Raiders’ defense .

    Another very good win for the Rays ! Now they face a pivotal three game series against the Yankees in New York . Girardi and his guys will now be looking to play ” spoiler ” .

    , tophatal ………..

  11. Chris,

    Please tell me that Giants’ performance against the Panthers was simply a minor slip up ? Forget that , just rerunning the game between the Niners and Colts . Are some of these teams really that bad or is just the coaching at the moment , that is simply mediocre ?

    RGIII , really needs to learn some nifty footwork , because his fumble was almost on par with Mark Sanchez’s now infamous ” butt-fumble “

  12. Chris

    Vonn Miller proving why he is a nut job . Compromised his test by getting the technician to substitute another sample, , that was not his . Has Miller never watched any of these crime procedural dramas ? Never mind the fact that there is such a thing as DNA . A mind is a terrible thing to waste and so too , was Miller’s scholarship in college . The kid is obviously not that intelligent .

    Did he forget , he is already a two-time offender of the league’s substance control policy and they (league) have prior samples records in their possession to match up against ?

    tophatal ………………

  13. I heard one local commentator (Phoenix ESPN radio) state that if every single former collegiate athlete who received special deals, loans never intended to be repaid or whatever, went public, and the numbers were huge, the NCAA might be forced to either support paying student athletes at a fair level or simply recognize the system as it stands today and let it ride… I think I like that approach. The kicker being for these former collegiate athletes to stand together and follow through for the good of future collegiate athletes…

  14. Jim…

    My concern is this.

    Does paying the athlete a stipend in any way limit the under the table funds they’re getting from boosters. What’s to say it does? Perhaps it adds even MORE corruption to an already inequitable system.

    And as you suggest, who gets paid what?

    Do we pay a woman’s lacrosse player the same we play a football player? Does a walk-on punter get paid the same as a highly recruited college quarterback?

    That’s why I’m inclined to leave things as they are. Less room for even more bad things to happen.

  15. Al…

    I think plenty of people care about whether college athletes are getting paid. Just look at Dicky V, he he. What in the world was that all about? Comparing Arian Foster to a prostitute? Tell us how ya’ really feel, Dick.

    It was sad news about Ken Norton. Even sadder considering I don’t think he and his son ever reconciled their differences.

    Sure the Broncos blew out the Raiders, Al. You weren’t expecting a different outcome, were you?

    Nice four game home stand by the Rays. Way to finish strong and represent in front of the fans. Their work is not done yet, however.

    Giants fans, Al? If you know any, make sure you talk them off the ledge before the do something they regret.

    And the Miller thing hasn’t become a huge distraction in Denver… yet.

  16. That’s why I suggested if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, Dwin.

    I don’t think anyone, other than Dicky V, minds if an athlete gets a little this or that.

    As long as that this or that isn’t a brand new house.

    Makes me almost want to throw Blue Chips into my DVD player.

  17. I am not sure I buy all this too poor to eat stuff.
    If I’m correct, scholarships typically include room and board. In the case of football, they have training table, and their coaches wouldn’t let them starve. Eating’s part of their training. I’m also pretty sure their scholarship includes housing. If they choose to move off campus, then they assume the responsibilities of doing so.
    All that said, I think the NCAA is disgusting in the manner they use and hypocritically judge these athletes. I say, reign in (or dismantle) the NCAA, prevent it from milking amateurs for billions. Pay the players a reasonable stipend as part of their scholarship.
    That and re-establish the old conferences before all this football money bullshit screwed everything up for us basketball fans;)

  18. Finally, the voice of reason, Billy B is in the building.

    I’ve always felt that college athletes are paid enough in the sense that they get everything paid for, or at least most of them do. Room, board, tuition, etc. It’s more than I ever got.

    But I could also find a job for extra cash (thank you, Lillian’s) something most of them can’t do. I know football players get all the girls but it does help to have a little walk-around cash to seal the deal.

    I don’t think we should pay ’em but I do think there’s something inherently wrong with universities making an immeasurable amount of money without them really receiving a dime.

  19. Both Norton’s did reconcile at the time of the patriarch’s near fatal car crash that left him medical induced coma for several days . That was the good thing , the sad thing , were the conditions that Ken Sr died under , in terms of financial assets . For a guy who earned over $40 million over the course of his career , he was almost penniless at the time of his death . Thank you Don King for treating your fighters like slabs of meat . I recently a piece that suggested that since De La Hoya came into boxing as a promoter ,he has been good for the sport . LOL,LOL,LOL !!! De La Hoya and his company over the past two years have spent more time in court being sued than Lindsay Lohan’s appearances in court for repeated drug offenses and probation violations .

    Will be doing a a small piece on Norton and the Spinks’ brothers (Michael and Leon) .

    As to the Broncos blowing out the Raiders . Well , let’s just say , there are some bad teams and some really bad coaching in the NFL at present and I believe that by week eight we could have our NFL managerial casualty of the season .

    The Rays took it to the Yankees last night with that 7-0 shellacking .

    Left you a response to the comment left on my most recent piece .

    tophatal ……………..

  20. Al…

    Don King’s been treating his prize fighters like shit since Day One. That should come as no surprise.

    Rays are winning but the Indians are Rangers are right on their heels. I know they’ve won five straight but they can’t let up now.

    And I don’t know that Moore is far and away the Rays’ best pitcher. Cobb’s been pretty solid all season, Price is last year’s Cy Young Award winner and there was a point this year that Chris Archer was pitching better than all of them.

    It’s a good problem to have.

  21. Look at the quality starts of both by way of Cobb and Moore

    Consistency will be the key for the Rays over the final games of the season .

    Pittsburgh Pirates’ fans are going crazy , as they wait to kick off their playoff schedule . Is this what happiness is meant to be like after twenty plus years of misery ?

    You do realize that King did time in prison for involuntary manslaughter don’t you ? Shot his (unarmed victim) victim in the back . but it ruled involuntary manslaughter . That is the type of justice this country yearns for .

    Hits , misses and what the hell was that about ?

  22. Pirates are going to be a tough out, Al.

    You have to give the NL MVP to McCutcheon, don’t ya?

    Rays win again. Their magic number is four. Unfortunately, nobody behind them is giving an inch.

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