Bomar’s Mistake Brings Stipend Issue For Athletes To The Forefront

By Gregory Moore
Updated: August 6, 2006

SAN ANTONIO – Maybe the smartest thing that Rhett Bomar has done in his life is to bring the debate of whether college athletes who are on scholarship should have some sort of stipend and it is a debate that continues to simmer just below the boiling point because as long as things are fine, nobody cares. But the moment a situation like Bomar’s comes forth, the top of the stockpot starts to rattle and pretty soon the cooks in Indianapolis start scurrying around the NCAA rules kitchen. Well they are scurrying again and this time they may actually have reason to ‘think’ about the problem.

The issue brings back a conversation that I remember with several people over the years. I remember what one Wally Renfro had said right here on the BASN website that the NCAA needed to pay these players something that would stave off temptation. I have one thought that paying these privileged individuals was the worse thing in the world but then I began to realize that we are dealing with college students who are not as fortunate as their classmates. I remember that point when I was going through my own collegiate days in the mid to late 1980s. When I was going to school, whether I was paying for it through college loans and the honest hustles of typing up term papers or tutoring students on the PASCAL and BASIC programming languages, or whether my parents were footing the bills and giving me spending money each week that resembled a paycheck, I really didn’t want for anything. Any girls I dated were taken to the nice restaurants that I could afford. Maybe I spent my money a little too lavishly back then but then again, I was able to do that. But looking at some of my friends who were playing collegiate sports at the schools I attended, they weren’t so fortunate. A trip to White Castles in Cincinnati or to Pantera Pizza in Austin back in the mid 80s was a little tough for those guys. Well if it was tough for that group of players then, why should I expect things to be any different now for today’s current athletes on scholarship? I shouldn’t and it hasn’t gotten any better.

Well maybe it is time for the NCAA to start seriously looking at giving all of its student athletes on the Division I level some type of monthly stipend or allowance that allows these young men and women to have some sort of life. The folks scurrying around in that kitchen need to cook up a recipe that includes a decent monetary amount that these athletes can use for their own personal expenditures but make the program strict enough to where they cannot be financing extravagances such as transportation or lavish personal property like expensive watches and what not. They will need to produce a program that gives these students the freedom of not relying on misguided boosters who think they can buy their way into the favoritism of the coaches and athletic directors and they need to develop a program that holds all involved to a high standard of accountability. This is something that should have been done years ago and needs to be done right now.

The NCAA may not want to realize what they have in their kitchen but the rest of us see the dilemma for what it is. It’s sad that every year we are going to have to hear about a student athlete going down the wrong path because of a financial hardship but it will continue unless the cooks in that kitchen figure out how to stop the pot from boiling over and eventually scalding the whole organization. Right now that top is just clanking. It’s clanking but that doesn’t mean that this situation is under control. It’s far from being under control and just turned on simmer. The knob is broke and when it comes to the stipend issue, the water temperature continues to rise in unsuspecting fashion.


Staying on the Bomar case for a moment, one has to ask him or herself, just where is the character in today’s athletes? Whether Bomar realizes it or not, he had a choice in his situation. His roommate had a choice and so did Adrian Peterson when story of his little loan of a luxury car first surfaced. Add to this stockpile the problems at Auburn, Miami, Georgia and other schools where players have been suspended, kicked off the team or are under fire for bad decisions and you have to ask yourself, “What the hell is going on these days with these athletes? Is status that so important that they will sacrifice character?” To put it bluntly, yes. From USC’s Ting brothers leaving to supposedly study for med school to Bomar and others, the bad decision that they are making are far worse than almost anything that has been reported in recent memory. Maybe with the microwave age of our world we are seeing, reading and hearing about these atrocities and we are just reacting to something that is relatively new to us. But yet students and greedy boosters isn’t something new. Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Georgia and other schools have all had boosters who thought they ran the programs and they flaunted money to prove it. The movie “Blue Chips” was as realistic as it came back in its time. And what was probably a movie some fourteen years ago then is every bit as true today if not almost high definition in nature.

A player’s character comes from his upbringing and that’s where you have to start looking. If the parents do their job and teach that sacrifice is not a hindrance in your quest for your ultimate prize, then players usually have great character and go on to be great people. But yet if learning to sacrifice is not a part of the equation on character building, you will have players of questionable ilk in your program. Am I saying that the Grand Prairie product is of bad character? In this instance I am. What Bomar and his roommate have triggered is going to be an investigation from hell that could just wreck the athletic department. OU is already on probation thanks to former men’s basketball head coach Kelvin Sampson. The football program doesn’t need to be put into a similar situation but it could if the NCAA deems it proper.

Whether Bomar and others are sorry for whatever actions they may have done at their schools, the situation still remains that they did something illegal and knowingly knew that it was against the rules of the NCAA. They may go on with their lives but the programs they once played for could be handcuffed for years to come.

There needs to be some sort of accountability from these players. It is upsetting that schools like TCU, Texas A&M Commerce and others are looking at Bomar and want to give him a chance to play football at those schools. It’s a shame because these schools aren’t helping in teaching guys like Bomar accountability. Giving him a scholarship at any school is a slap in the face to OU and Bob Stoops’ program. He can play football anywhere he chooses but he needs to be just a normal student now and pay for his education like so many others do. College loans aren’t the evil that we all make them out to be but if any school rewards a player like Bomar or anyone else who may lose their scholarship this season because of gross misconduct, then that school is just as guilty as the player who put his former school into the NCAA investigation crosshairs. These student athletes need to be held accountable and they need to learn that good character is important in the success of today.