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Alabama Gives Scholarship to Former Five-Star Recruit Who Can No Longer Play Football
I love big-time college sports as much as the next guy, but it can be a pretty shady and corrupt business. The NCAA allows schools to make money off the hard work and dedication of athletes, but the athletes can’t make any money for themselves. And that would be fine if all the athletes were actually there to get an education, because then it would be a fair tradeoff. But we all know that, in major programs, most players are not getting a serious education. They are just trying to pursue an athletic career, and playing in college is the only way you get to the NFL or (with rare exceptions) the NBA. And if these “student” athletes get hurt, they have no safety net. It’s “sorry kid, no more free ride. Hope you can actually study and pay your own tuition!”
I mention all this to set up the story of Elisha Shaw. The 296-pound student at Tucker High in Atlanta was one of the top defensive tackle recruits in the country by the end of his junior season, and he had offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, and several other Division I schools. The NFL and the chance to be a millionaire was just three or four years away. National Signing Day 2014 was supposed to be the best day of his life.
Unfortunately, before his senior season Shaw suffered a neck injury in practice, and doctors say the ligaments will never fully heal. Thus, his football career is over.
But here’s where the story gets warm and fuzzy. The University of Alabama decided to offer the kid a scholarship anyway. It’s not a football scholarship, mind you. It’s what they call a medical scholarship under NCAA bylaw 126.96.36.199.
“If an incapacitating injury or illness occurs prior to a prospective student-athlete’s or a student-athlete’s participation in athletically related activities and results in the student-athlete’s inability to compete ever again, the student-athlete shall not be counted within the institution’s maximum financial aid award limitations for the current, as well as later academic years.”
The official paper work is not yet completed, but apparently Nick Saban said it’s a done deal and Shaw said he’s pumped.
Well done, Alabama. That’s one small step forward.
Hat Tip – [ESPN]