LARNED — Last week the University of Kansas announced plans for a $17.5 million apartment complex that will house 32 KU men’s and women’s basketball players and 34 other students.
Some folks are screaming that it is a Taj Mahal, another piece of the idol worship of today’s athletes.
Others, including Kansas coaches, feel it is necessary if KU wants to “keep up” in the constantly escalating battle to lure the best athletes to campus.
A few things jump out at us here.
First the cost. $17.5 million. You KNOW it will cost more. That’s the way building projects go. Always over budget.
Secondly, the cost of this project will be privately funded. It is not taxpayer money. Most of those complaining about it are Wichita State and Kansas State fans.
KU fans, sensing a competitive advantage here, agree that it is necessary.
So what else is new?
My take on it is simple. There is so much money being brought into the NCAA and its’ member institutions by college sports and it IS NOT trickling down to the athletes. If the NCAA and the universities continue to promote the sham of “amateurism” and keep the athletes from sharing in this largesse, then some of that money has got to show up in other ways and plush living quarters is a way to reward the athletes while still maintaining the charade that they are amateurs.
Today’s major-college athlete — the same one who helps fill the 75,000-seat stadiums — receives exactly the same benefits that his counterpart of the 1950’s received yet he is expected, no, required to give much more of his time, his personal life and his energies than athletes of years gone by.
College athletics ARE a business, not a recreational pastime. The money is there and if the only way to share it with the athletes is by providing them outstanding living facilities, then I don’t have a problem with it.
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Charles Tabler is a contributing writer from Larned