Mar 27, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; The UCLA Bruins bench reacts during the second half against the Florida Gators in the semifinals of the south regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at FedEx Forum. Florida won 79-68. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
According to an article by SB Nation.com:
A sports agent, Noah Lookofsky, has recently stated that he paid former UCLA basketball star Tyler Honeycutt over $55,000 during his time in Westwood and beforehand in the hopes that when Honeycutt went pro, he would become his official agent.
Honeycutt was a Bruin under Ben Howland from 2009 to 2011, averaging 10.3 points per game in his two years there.
The forward made the all Pac-10 Freshman Team in 2010 and the regular all-conference first team in 2011, leading the league with 2.1 blocked shots per game. After he declared for the NBA draft in 2011 and was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in the second round, he shuttled between the Kings, the Houston Rockets, and the D-League before landing in Israel, where he now plays.
Lookofsky gave SB Nation 56 pages of documentation detailing how he gave Honeycutt and Lisa Stazel, his mother, funds to cover rent and an apartment in nearby Century City for Honeycutt as well as car payments and travel expenses for Stazel to see her son play on the road.
When Honeycutt signed with another agent, Jason Martin, Lookofsky began to talk as he contacted the UCLA athletic department about his payments to Honeycutt and his mom, which UCLA immediately reported to the now-Pac-12 and the NCAA.
In my view, the fact that UCLA did not try to cover things up will help them immensely should the NCAA consider anything serious in the form of possible sanctions.
According to Lookofsky, Honeycutt was/is far from alone in receiving extra benefits as the ex-agent estimates that over 60% of Division I elite-level college basketballers have received money either before or during their time on campus.
As every college sports fan knows, extra benefits to athletes are a huge no-no. However…
Here’s how I see all of this:
As far as this issue is concerned, college athletes have been getting paid and supplied with houses and cars for as long as there have been college athletes.
In fact, it was one of the reasons why the NCAA was formed in 1906, and a big factor in that organization cracking down on schools like SMU in the 1980s; no one will forget the “Death Penalty” that the Mustang football program received in 1987 due to so many of those players getting cash and other things.
While I certainly understand the need for student-athletes to be as much like students as possible, which is a main reason why the rules against extra benefits are in place…
The fact that schools continue to be sanctioned, notably USC football in 2010 over the Reggie Bush/Lloyd Lake scandal, not to mention the recent ruling that allows Northwestern football players to form a union and consider themselves employees (which Northwestern is of course fighting), tells me one particular thing…
These rules that the NCAA imposes on athletes are unfair and in some ways indentured servitude-like as while a free education, room, board, and books is great, the schools make up to billions of dollars in revenue in football and man’s basketball alone, and the cut of that big money that the players get?
That scholarships are renewable every year, meaning that a player can get his ride taken away for any reason every August or September, doesn’t seem very fair to me, either.
As is the fact that regular students, unlike athletes, are able to earn as much money as they want and can be given mansions in Beverly Hills if the benefactors so desire.
No wonder Brian “The Boz” Bosworth, the former all-American linebacker from Oklahoma, wore a t-shirt saying “NCAA: National Communists Against Athletes” at the 1987 Orange Bowl.
Perhaps if the NCAA let up a bit more on the student-athletes it claims to protect; give them a larger stipend on their monthly scholarship check and guaranteeing more security in those rides, those basketball and football players wouldn’t be so tempted and inclined to take money, cars, and apartments.
Mar 27, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Joe Bruin, UCLA’s mascot, does an Elvis routine during halftime against the Florida Gators in the semifinals of the south regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
After all, I worked and earned a paycheck my final year in college. Why shouldn’t athletes if they really need to?
But getting back to UCLA…
As was said, because of the Bruins getting on the ball right away in this matter, I don’t think that they will suffer anywhere near the same fate as their crosstown gridiron rivals did in 2010.
The worst that may happen will probably be vacating of all wins earned with Honeycutt in a UCLA uniform, and maybe the loss of a scholarship or two.
In other words, these revelations of Lookofsky’s will not result in a major scandal.
But I do believe that it will result in a more aggressive effort to give student-athletes more power and help them be more able to fly home in an emergency, give them more money so they won’t have to worry about rent to go hungry at times.
It’s all about fairness at the core; that’s what these student-athletes really want deep down.