Justin Combs Earned His UCLA Scholarship. He Should Keep It.

I’m not a fan of Sean “P. Diddy”/”Diddy”/”Puffy”/”Puff Daddy” Combs. I’ve found him to be a middling M.C. at best. He is a good hype man, though. I will give him that.

Well his son is in the news recently for all the wrong reasons.

Actually, to clarify, his son is in the news for a reason I’ve yet to figure out, exactly.

We are months past signing day, but apparently, some taxpayers in California are just finding out that Justin Combs, son of Sean Combs, committed to play football at UCLA. The younger Mr. Combs is a cornerback from New Rochelle, N.Y.

According to a website called BusinessInsiders.com, these taxpayers believe that Justin Combs should give back his scholarship, which has an approximate value of $54,000 for this coming year, since Combs is an out-of-state student attending UCLA. These unnamed taxpayers, according to the BusinessInsiders.com story, feel that the money should go to “students who need it more.”

College costs are skyrocketing, and higher education via the traditional model is getting more and more expensive with each passing year. It is completely out of whack and out of control. I understand that. I get it.

However, maybe I missed something along the way.

I could use some help in clarifying exactly who is determined to be deserving of an athletic scholarship in this day and age.

I’ve worked in higher education for over a decade at a variety of public institutions, with the bulk of my time spent in academic affairs. I believe I have a solid understanding of merit based versus need based schlarships.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time writing about intercollegiate athletics, and I believe that I have a solid grasp of where the scholarship money comes from. My understanding is that UCLA, like other Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision schools, has its scholarship money for their merit scholarships in a fund within the athletic department.

The money that young Mr. Combs is receiving was not taken away from other deserving yet poor students.

The determination was made by UCLA football that Mr. Combs, based on his performance on the field, merited the student athlete grant-in-aid that he is receiving.

End of discussion as far as I am concerned.

I don’t remember anyone raising a stink when Matt Leinart received his scholarship at USC.

I don’t recall anyone saying anything about how Andrew Luck shouldn’t take his scholarship money at Stanford.

Did anyone tell Marcus Jordan (Michael Jordan’s son) to turn down the scholarship offer from University of Central Florida? Or Steph and Seth Curry to turn down theirs?

Has anyone in the past declared vociferously before this week that any of the other student athlete sons and daughters of famous professional athletes—or, for that matter, any sons and daughters that have parents that are millionaires or billionaires—should decline their grants-in-aid to play intercollegiate athletics?

No. No they did not.

Justin Combs earned the scholarship because of his on-field performance. He is going to have to work hard to maintain that scholarship and his right to have it. It might be free tuition and fees, but we know it is far from a “free ride,” especially when you’re a football player at a program that is trying to rise up like UCLA.

If young Mr. Combs decides that he would like to give back his scholarship at some point, that is his choice to make. No one else’s.

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