Temple University has a new spin on fundraising that is something right out of NASCAR: A $50,000 donation will allow donors to sponsor one of nine Owls football player numbers this season.
The program, called “The 9,” is “considered to be the highest honor an Owl can earn,” according to a news release issued this week by the school. The other “exclusive benefits” include travel on the team plane to one away game, a custom jersey and “interaction with your assigned student-athlete throughout the year.”
I mean, there’s a quick half million. (For those of you wondering how to put a price tag on a player’s likeness, it seems you now have your answer. From a school!) How awesome is that? Well, if you’re a player, maybe not so much.
Granted, the player who wears the sponsored number is barred under the NCAA’s amateurism rules from receiving any of the $50,000 directly, although the school points out the tax-deductible donations will benefit academic and career resources, nutrition programs for student-athletes and facility upgrades, among other things.
“What exactly is the individual student athlete getting for the extra time he must interact with this donor and the “sponsorship” of the jersey he’s wearing? The answer is nothing, beyond the exact same athletic scholarship that is also rewarded to athletes who generate no money for Temple and are not asked to deal with individual sponsors,” said Edward Kian, Oklahoma State professor. “This is all seemingly permissible under NCAA rules and is sound business strategy, but it is clear that Temple is exploiting these numbers and specifically the student athletes assigned to wear them.”
Lighten up, Frances. It’s all part of the educational process, amirite? Just something else those kids signed up for, even if they didn’t know they signed up for it. Hey, if a student-athlete refused to interact with his number’s sponsor, would that be considered a violation of team rules?
The hypocrisy is so thick, you could cut it with a knife.