Justin Combs, a two-star cornerback from New York, is getting a scholarship to play football at UCLA. He will apparently suit up for the Bruins this fall under new head coach Jim Mora. This is, as would be in most cases, hardly noteworthy. But Justin Combs happens to be the son of Sean Combs, better known as the rapper and entertainer by the name of P. Diddy.
And Diddy, you know, has earned a lot of money over the years. Forbes estimated his net worth to be approximately $500 million as of last year.
So to clear up any sort of confusion here.
A.) The younger Combs has an athletic scholarship to UCLA. Also offered by schools such as Illinois, Iowa and West Virginia, he committed to play for the Bruins last November and signed his letter of intent in February.
B.) His dad, P. Diddy, is among the one-percenters in the U.S. So yeah, he's pretty rich.
C.) Because of this, people are upset. And some people say he should give up his scholarship, because Diddy has quite a few more benjamins than all the other dads. It's only fair -- so they're saying.
"UCLA's athletic department needs to consider the fact that perhaps there is another athlete on the football team, who could perhaps really use this scholarship," one student told CBS Los Angeles earlier this week. "Just being considerate that [in] our economy, students are trying to get to college through athletics and academics as well."
Thus far this week, CNN's discussed this. So has Slate, the Los Angeles Times and even PTI this afternoon. It's gone national more or less, which is pretty silly to begin with. Combs received a merit-based scholarship from UCLA, like, well, you know, all Division I players on scholarship. College football programs dole out scholarships to prospective athletes based on their skills and performance so as long their grades and SATs scores are up to par. They aren't need-based. Never have been. Likely never will, either.
And as far as we know, Combs has earned his scholarship -- based off his play on the field and in the classroom, sporting a 3.75 GPA.
So why does this matter? Because P. Diddy's rich and some taxpayer's are upset (though, this isn't entirely a taxpayer expense anyway and the school has an athletic fund to support the football program thanks to TV deals, boosters and ticket sales). Yet, this is what we're talking about. We're upset the son of a millionaire is going to play football at a university for free. Which then, of couse, presents the question: why weren't we upset when Andrew Luck went to Stanford for free, or when Matt Barkley goes to USC for free. Both come from well-off families. Luck's father is the athletic director at West Virginia and received $405,600 in 2011. But neither Luck nor Barkley have paid a dime of tuition at their respective schools.
This is how college football works in 2012. Schools offer scholarships to good football players. And in the minds of Mora and his staff at UCLA, Justin Combs is a good football player -- no matter who his father is nor how much money he earns
Follow Joey on Twitter @joeyrkaufman