The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Sports Boosters: Help or hamper?

On Aug.10, the University of Miami became the latest NCAA sports program to be embroiled in a scandal involving inappropriate activity of boosters.

As reported by Yahoo! Sports, the inappropriate activity involved former booster Nevin Shapiro, now serving a 20-year sentence for involvement in a Ponzi scheme. Allegedly, Shapiro spent millions on the Miami football team between 2002 and 2010; providing players with money, jewelry, prostitutes, and even funding the cost of an abortion for a player’s girlfriend. 

Participation in inappropriate activity is not limited to only the Division I athletic programs. It occurs in some form on every level of competition, including Division III.

“At the Division III level and at Guilford, our budgets are primarily designed with an eye toward providing the necessities,” said Associate Professor of Sport Studies Bob Malekoff.

“Division I athletic departments feel so much pressure to have great teams that we now have an unwinnable arms race in terms of providing everything from lavish locker rooms to specialized support staffs,” said Malekoff. “The fact that all of this is happening when academic and student service programs are being severely cut makes some wonder about priorities in higher education.”

“Most Guilford boosters are parents who just want to support their children’s athletic experiences,” said Sports Information Director Dave Walters. “In most cases, within my Guilford does not guarantee a professional career in their sport.”

“In most cases, within my experience, student athletes at Guilford are students first and athletes second, or sometimes make it a priority further down the line,” said Walters.

Some would argue that giving extra money to athletes is unethical.

In addition, money is spent on equipping players and teams with necessary funds. “First-year football players tend to receive more financial aid than the returning players,” said Senior Andrew Johnson.

He speculated that this was an incentive to entice athletes to come to Guilford. “A lot of the time these athletes don’t come from backgrounds with a lot of money. So when people offer you things it’s hard not to take them,” said Johnson.   

As the NCAA continues to police the ethics of boosters and athletes, the violations continue to occur. Should athletes be paid in some manner for the revenue that their play affords their respective schools? Would the school’s sports programs survive if the athletes took the professional rout? What happens if college players form a union, only to be eventually become locked out because they feel that their skills and earning potential are being taken advantage of?

The debate rages on, and so do the violations.

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