Sadly, UCLA has felt compelled to defend something that doesn’t need — or, rather, shouldn’t need — any type of defending in the first place.
As you’ve no doubt heard by now, there’s a bit of an asinine controversy brewing in California involving the son of millionaire hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs. In February of this year, Justin Combs signed a Letter of Intent with UCLA and will play football for the Bruins on (gasp!) an athletic scholarship.
For whatever reason, some taxpayers in the state in which UCLA is located have decided that, because of the amount of money Combs’ father has acquired in his lifetime, the cornerback should turn over the $54,000 scholarship to a student who needs it more. As we wrote earlier today, the argument appears to be that the family should be compelled to pay for his schooling regardless of the athletic merit that led to the scholarship offer in the first place.
In response, UCLA released a statement this afternoon addressing, in broad, non-specific terms, Combs’ situation as it pertains to athletic scholarships vs. need-based assistance/scholarships. Hopefully this will be the last we hear of this absurd, contrived controversy.
Here’s the statement, in its entirety:
Like all other UC campuses, UCLA has a robust financial aid program to ensure that students from all economic backgrounds have access to the university.
Approximately 30 percent of all revenue generated from fees and tuition is set aside for financial aid. In addition, the university’s Blue and Gold Plan ensures that students with financial need from families with incomes below $80,000 a year pay no tuition at all.
At UCLA, 47 percent of California-resident undergraduates (42 percent of all undergrads) receive enough grant aid to cover all of their system-wide fees and tuition. In fall 2010–11, 41 percent of UCLA undergraduates were low-income Pell Grant recipients. In fact, UCLA enrolls more low-income Pell Grant recipients than all Ivy League schools combined.
Unlike need-based scholarships, athletic scholarships are awarded to students strictly on the basis of their athletic and academic ability — not their financial need. Athletic scholarships, such as those awarded to football or basketball players, do not rely on state funds. Instead, these scholarships are entirely funded through UCLA Athletics ticket sales, corporate partnerships, media contracts and private donations from supporters.
Each year, UCLA awards the equivalent of approximately 285 full athletic scholarships to outstanding student athletes. The scholarships are used by the UCLA Department of Intercollegiate Athletics to pay students’ tuition and fees, as well as room and board. In this respect, UCLA is no different from the overwhelming majority of Division I institutions.