Henry Bazakas embodied everything the University of California wants in a football player.
A third-generation Cal student who grew up in Berkeley, Bazakas arrived on campus five years ago as a walk-on offensive lineman. Three times he earned an award for having the team’s highest grade-point average. He and a teammate spearheaded a summer reading program at local elementary schools. He won another award, for his commitment to strength and conditioning while recovering from a torn knee ligament. And last season, after he finally earned an athletic scholarship, he started three games at left tackle.
But none of that counted for much in June, when Bazakas called the Cal football coach, Justin Wilcox, to say that he was opting out of his final season because of health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The call was the beginning of an odyssey that illustrates the normally unseen, cutthroat side of the business of college football, with tensions that have been magnified for athletes by the determined push to play during the pandemic.
Nine days later, Bazakas found his scholarship had been cut off, and he was then billed more than $24,000 halfway through his summer term because the athletic department had revoked the financial aid that it had already paid.
Nice way to thank him for his service.
The summer school aid was ultimately reinstated by a university appeals committee, which said the school had violated N.C.A.A. rules by abruptly pulling Bazakas’s aid before giving him an opportunity for a hearing.
Chalk it up as another episode of enhancing the academic experience.