More from today’s column (linked here) on National College Players Association executive director Ramogi Huma - that’s Ra-MOE-gee WHO-ma - and what else he has to say on the state of college athletics:
== On the pending passage of AB 2079, the Student-Athlete Right to Know bill:
“Many people are shocked to hear the type of misinformation student-athletes get during the recruiting process, and the public really isn’t informed, either. There is a lot of deception and omitted information and a lack of equality nationwide as athletes struggle to get by. It wasn’t until after I was injured as a player did I realize the NCAA capped scholarships. The totals are even below the price tag of the school’s academic scholarships. I don’t think that’s an accident. They know what they’re doing. The players aren’t met to get by. But they sell it as a full scholarship. It’s very tough to navigate through this system.
“(Our organization) has a lot of goals, but this one is to create a very powerful transparency and honesty in recruiting. It’s obvious when you talk about this issue, no one really knows all that’s involved. Maybe they know one or two pieces, or some of the pitfalls, but not all of them. I’ve talked to lawmaker after lawmaker and finally go the support in California, and I hope it continues forward.”
== On Huma’s college experience arriving at UCLA – in 1995, he was the Bruins’ co-defensive rookie of the year, redshirted in ’96 with a broken foot, started in ’98 as a junior but sustained a career-ending hip injury in the second game against Houston:
“When I went through the recruiting process, I made four visits and had a horrible time. They all seemed like cookie-cutter schools. They were competitive teams, with huge promiment campuses, great coaches. It’s hard to make a decision. Had I known that some of them wouldn’t take care of my medical expenses or other issues, I could have made a much more informed decision.
“I had been offered scholarships from nine of the 10 Pac-10 schools, plus Colorado, took four trips, and everywhere I went, they said I would be given a ‘full scholarship.’ I’d go on these trips – to UCLA, Colorado, Washington and Arizona, and I passed on going to Stanford – and there’d be food for days, and you’d think, ‘wow, college is great.’ I was a light linebacker, just 250 pounds. When I was a freshman, I lost 15 pounds because I couldn’t get enough food to maintain my weight off of what we were given to live off. I was used to five big meals a day. Now I was on the campus meal card, getting one a day, and no extra money at all.
“(When All-American Donnie Edwards was suspended), we started that season 5-0, we beat Miami, and we were on our way. But that changed and Donnie was in trouble. But as mad as we were about the issues, there was no one to address it with anyone. We’d have team meetings, and they’d tell us, ‘The NCAA runs the show.’
“Later, in my first summer, we had a new coach, Terry Donahue left, and a new conditioning coach. The players wanted to get better, so we wanted to do the conditioning program. And there was a lot of pressure to go. But in the middle of our first meeting, an NCAA compliance officer told us, ‘Just to let you know, the NCAA considers this voluntary, so we’re not allowed to pay your medical expenses if you’re injured.’ The players thought he was joking. Then when we realized he was serious, we turned very upset. Some of the players said, ‘My parents don’t have coverage, so what do I do?’ All we could do is shrug out shoulders. It became clear that every other school in the country had to deal with this. At that point, I was ready to do something about it. If we all could join hands, the NCAA would have to hear us and we should have more influence.”
== On the pitfalls many recruits face in the recruiting process:
“Recruiters have to win at all costs and it may not be convenient for them to give all the information they know. It’s all about verbal agreements. Nothing is in writing. To record the conversation with the recruiters, they’d have to agree to it. The recruiters have free reign. Their incentives aren’t the same as the schools. It’s not good for them to disclose information that isn’t going to help them land a recruit. I know they’re in a tough spot, but you have to sleep at night knowing the truth. They compete. I’m not saying every recruiter is deceptive, but the term, ‘full scholarship’ is very deceptive. All of the recruiters are responsible for that myth. It’s a deep-rooted lie.”
== On how he would do as a parent trying to help his kids deal with recruiters (Huma’s children are now aged 2 and 1 years old):
“The scary part is, I can help them with as much as I know and still can’t guarantee the schools will do as it says. Even if you give the recruiter the benefit of the doubt, who’s to say the coach won’t honor their promises.
“Part of this bill is to disclose scholarship renewal. If a player is in good standings, and a new coach comes in, he can do what he wants – even get rid of existing players. The huge myth in college sports – you have a four-year scholarship. The NCAA caps it at one year, but the schools can verbally guarantee a four-year deal if you keep good grades. But that whole line is against the NCAA rules. There is no outright guarantee. The NCAA is complicit with that – you can’t guarantee it. Sometimes, a school will retain 51 percent of their scholarship players. So they can tell a recruit their policy to normally keep a player. And they’re in the clear.
“It’s very easy for schools to post all this information on a reliable Internet site, straight from the school. But most don’t.”
== On the NCPA’s backing of the current lawsuit that former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon has against the NCAA for allowing EA Sports to use the likeness of players in video games (story linked here):
“We’re supportive of the case. Obviously, when I was playing the ‘NCAA College Football’ video games back then, you’d see the background, height, weight of each player, and it was obvious that it was us. And it was fun and exciting to see it. Even then, the technology was amazing. But for EA to pretend they weren’t using us …
“We are about advocating equality and fairness. Is it fair for these companies to mandate players sign over their rights? We had no choice. I don’t even remember what part of the paperwork package or what actual document we signed to allow them to use us. But there was so much hypocracy. The NCAA is supposed to protect the athletes from the forces of commercialism. They not only condone it here, but they facilitate it. So then the question is: Who is the NCAA protecting? The players are being used in the process without compensation. If the NCAA is my friend, I’d hate to see my enemy.
== On the NCPA’s website that grades schools on how much medical assistance information they give to recruits – from an A to an F, if there’s no participation in the survey:
“We explained to every school what we were trying to achieve, and followed it up with phone calls, faxes, emails. Now, it’s a bill. Some of the schools may not want to jump through the hoops of wanting to give our their information, but the medical policies, above all, are most important. For 90 percent of the schools to refuse to give information is ridiculous. It just underscored the need for bill.
== On how his own school, UCLA, was one that didn’t disclose the information (as well as USC and Cal State Northridge):
“I was hopeful they’d participate and disappointed, just as I was with every other school. Even with my alma mater not wanting to give, I had to find other points of leverage.”
== More information:
== The NCPA website (linked here)
== On the state’s movement on AB 2079 (linked here)
== A story from June, 2009 on AB 2079 (linked here)
== A story from Yahoo.com (linked here)
== A story on NPR: (linked here)