Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush said Tuesday "I think you would compare the NCAA to Al Capone and to the Mafia."Rush made the accusations at the forum called to look at the impact of "back-room deals, payoffs and scandals" in college sports. The congressman spoke after hearing from a couple of mothers of former student-athletes who complained of ill treatment by schools after their sons suffered injuries.
One mother, Valerie Hardrick, said the University of Oklahoma refused to grant a waiver for medical hardship that would allow her son, Kyle Hardrick, to play basketball at junior college after transferring from OU. Prior to Tuesday's forum, Hardrick's family provided to The Associated Press documentation showing that team doctors diagnosed him with a torn meniscus in his knee and wrote down on practice logs that he should be held out because he was hurt. Hardrick's family said the university has refused to pursue the waiver unless the family agrees to a settlement that would prohibit him or his family members from enrolling at Oklahoma or any of the universities governed by its board of regents. The proposed settlement also would prevent the Hardricks from filing a lawsuit against the university.
"My insurance does not cover all of Kyle's medical bills," an emotional Valerie Hardrick said. "The University of Oklahoma refused to pay for Kyle's surgery, his rehab, and his medication. The university actions also allowed Kyle to be released without appropriate medical treatment before consulting his original surgeon."
The NCAA requires schools to certify that an athlete has for athletically-related injuries, up to the deductible of the NCAA Catastrophic Injury Insurance Program (currently $90,000). The insurance coverage can be offered by the school, a parent or a personal policy of the athlete.
Two NBA players also participated in the forum, Thaddeus Young of the Philadelphia 76ers and Shane Battier, a free agent who last played with the Memphis Grizzlies.Battier described a college regimen at Duke that included a workout at 6:30 a.m., followed by classes, practice between 4 and 7:30 p.m., and wrapping up schoolwork at 11:30 or midnight.
"It is a full-time job," he said.
Battier called the NCAA's decision last week to allow conferences to provide student-athletes up to $2,000 in spending money "a great start."
"Is that a game-changer? No. What is a game-changer? A game-changer is guaranteeing four-year scholarships. That's a game-changer," Battier said. "A game-changer is, `If you commit to our school, and you graduate, we will pay for any graduate degree that you would like to pursue."'
Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, called the $2,000 a step in the right direction. But he said it shouldn't be optional, and that it still leaves a shortfall. His group has calculated the average scholarship shortfall for men's basketball and at the Football Bowl Subdivision level at around $3,200.
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