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Worth of athletic scholarship can go beyond degree

January 4, 2014 • Business


FILE – In this Dec. 7, 1988, file photo, Auburn’s Tracy Rocker, center, the winner of the 1988 Outland Trophy, gets a congratulatory handshake from runner-up Tony Mandarich, right, of Michigan State, at a ceremony in New York. What, exactly, is a college education worth? For some players, an athletic scholarship was their only means of going to college. Tuition, even at a state school, was too expensive, and that scholarship meant the difference between higher education and a blue-collar job or a career in the military. More than that, however, were the experiences and contacts their education provided _ opportunities that helped shape their adult lives.(AP Photo/Adam Stoltman, File)

Playing football at Michigan got Joe Holland more than an education.

It got him a job. Two, in fact.

The linebacker on the Wolverines’ 1988 Big Ten championship team was hired out of college by a fellow Michigan alum, with his football connections landing him the initial interview. That he’d worn the famed winged helmet caught the eye of his second employer, too.

“The president of this startup was a huge Michigan fan and lived in Ann Arbor and was a good friend of Bo Schembechler. I’m going to potentially go work for these guys and he’s a Michigan fan? That didn’t hurt me,” said Holland, now the co-owner of an Internet software company.

“So yes, it’s absolutely been helpful.”

The debate over paying college athletes has clouded this entire football season, beginning with allegations in August that 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel received money for signing autographs. Johnny Football was eventually cleared, but the NCAA is still fighting an antitrust lawsuit by former players who believe they’re owed billions of dollars in compensation.

At the NCAA’s annual convention later this month, restructuring proposals driven, in part, by larger schools wanting more autonomy — including the ability to give athletes stipends — will top the agenda.

“We’re not talking about pay for play,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said. “We are talking about the cost of education.”

But what, exactly, is a college education worth?

Using public and telephone records and social media, The Associated Press traced 90 players who were listed as seniors on the 1988 teams at four schools — Michigan, SEC co-champion Auburn, Akron and Wake Forest. The 23 — enough for a starting offense and defense — who could be reached by phone were asked if they got their degrees, what role their educations have Login to read more

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