One Scandal Down...

Ronald Martinez

Donald Sterling is finally banned from the NBA. Now America can turn its attention to another basketball problem: pay for play

In less than a week, the outcry of millions led to the downfall of a billionaire when Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life by Commissioner Adam Sterling Tuesday. An entire nation banded together and made a call to action, and in the end, the people made a change.

Congratulations, America. You have a voice, and it's powerful.

But although the Donald Sterling controversy is far from over, it's high time that we turn our attention to another scandal in the world of sports.

You know. That one involving the big bad NCAA, and the men and women we pay millions of dollars to see that are struggling to eat.

Not 24 hours after the most hated man in the world was expelled from his seat at the NBA owners table, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was issued a citation for walking out of a supermarket without paying $32 for crab legs and crawfish.

32 dollars. Not for a snapback, or to pay his half of the cable bill. Not even to keep his Netflix, Xbox Live and WWE Network subscriptions going.

The Heisman Trophy winner, and the face of the national champions, has to resort to shoplifting seafood just to put food in his stomach.

Sure, Winston is a downright idiot for feeling the need to steal from a supermarket to eat. A man of his stature in Tallahassee (and his home state of Alabama, depending if you're an Alabama or Auburn fan) should have no problem receiving a meal from a friend, or even from a diehard fan. He shouldn't even have a problem running to a female acquaintance's dorm for some Top Ramen (although we're not entirely sure how good of an idea that is, and no, the pun was not intended).

The problem is he feels the need to do so in the first place. Football players, moreso than other student athletes, have better prepared meals than non-athletes living in the dorms. They don't have to settle for poorly-made Sodexo food (no offense to Sodexo, and thank you for the 2+ years of employment). Some people may think that's enough, but when the news of the day consists of three University of Oklahoma athletes being penalized $4 for taking "too much pasta" at a graduation banquet, you know the situation has gotten utterly ridiculous.

I hope the people heard Shabazz Napier, who earlier this month used college basketball's biggest platform to make a statement on, and off the court.

I don't feel student-athletes should get hundreds of thousands of dollars, but like I said, there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I'm starving. ... When you see your jersey getting sold -- it may not have your last name on it -- but when you see your jersey getting sold and things like that, you feel like you want something in return.

There's the NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player, standing in front of reporters and admitting he sometimes plays on an empty stomach.

Some might look at Napier and how blessed he's been in his four years at UConn. A two-time national champion, Napier has been able to play for one of the biggest programs in college basketball, was recruited by one of the greatest coaches of this generation, and on top of that, has a full-ride scholarship.

But it isn't enough.

And while the nation's MOP can't afford to eat, the NCAA is thriving as a near-billion dollar entity. More than $680 million of the NCAA's total revenue comes from tournament multimedia rights from CBS and Turner Sports.

The same tournament in which Napier, the famished 22-year-old student-athlete, has led his UConn Huskies to two national championships.

What about Houston Texans running back Arian Fosterwho reflected on his time in college in the documentary Schooled: The Price of College Sports.

107,000 people buying a ticket to come watch us play. ... then I walk back, and reality sets in. I go to my dorm room, open my fridge, and there's nothing in my fridge. Hold up, man. What just happened? Why don't I have anything to show for what I just did? There was a point where we had no food, no money, so I called my coach and said, "Coach, we don't have no food. We don't have no money. We're hungry. Either you give us some food, or I'm gonna go do something stupid." He came down and he brought 50 tacos for four or five of us, which is an NCAA violation. But then, the next day I walk up to the facility and I see my coach pull up in a brand new Lexus.

That's a star college running back telling his coach he's "gonna go do something stupid" if he doesn't eat. Thankfully, Foster had coaches that cared about their players during his time at Tennessee - enough to face the chance at an NCAA violation for doing the right thing. He shouldn't have to do the right thing; the NCAA should. There are kids around the nation feeling the same sentiments right now that Foster did six years ago. One of them is your Heisman Trophy winner.

It's funny how the NCAA fails to focus on the fact that their own players are half-starved, but will cause an uproar at the first sight of a Dez Bryant-type for having lunch with someone famous. And while the powers that be sit on mountains of money, driving Cadillacs and Beamers, the kids who earned it can't sell a couple of autographs to help pay bills without the possibility of a punishment.

With all this talk about a potential union at Northwestern, we could see the changing of the guard in collegiate sports very soon. But that's just one school. Yes, several more are soon to follow NU's lead, but what about the smaller schools that stand no chance against the higher ups? The Mizzou's and Alabama's of the world will have no problem finding some footing in this argument, but they aren't the only ones trying to maintain their status as student-athletes while scuffling to keep a roof over their heads. Who is willing to stand up for them?

It's a fight that has been raging on for years. Progress has been made, but it still feels like there's no end in sight to the long-standing debate of Pay for Play. Everyone has a different stance, and while there are dozens of possible answers, one thing is for sure: conferences are swimming in dough, while the money-makers are forced to live like savages. It's egregious and a black eye to college sports, but it will continue to be the norm until the people stop looking at the NCAA to change instead of making a solution happen themselves.

Donald Sterling may be a racist, but the real slaves reside in the NCAA.

You've proven you have a voice, America. Put it to good use.

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