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Everlasting Joy - Student gets $19K, athletes $0

The Tennessee Vols weren’t exactly money when they traveled to Rupp Arena on Saturday to face the Kentucky Wildcats.

The basketball game couldn’t have gone much worse for our beloved Vols as they were hammered on the court and lost their No. 1 spot in the AP poll.

But there was a sophomore from Kentucky who was absolutely on the money Saturday – and I mean literally. Kentucky student McKinley Webb made a half-court shot during ESPN’s “College GameDay” pregame show at Rupp Arena.

For his shot, Webb earned $19,000.

My question is this. Why is it legal for Webb to be pulled from the stands and given the chance to win $19,000 for one shot, yet it’s illegal to pay anyone on the Kentucky team $19 for all the baskets they make?

Webb puts in no practice time and generates no revenue for the school. And because he’s not a player, he can win cash.

Meanwhile, Kentucky players who spend dozens of hours on the practice court each week, put thousands of fans in the stands, and account for probably millions in memorabilia sales can’t earn a dime.

This makes no sense.

College athletes deserve to be paid for their services. Not allowing someone to earn income for a skill that should clearly earn them income goes against the very fiber of the capitalist society we so heartily cultivate in America.

The NCAA appears unforgiving in its stance that players shall receive no monetary compensation or gifts for their time commitment. Probably the most glaring example of this nonsense is the well-known case of the homeless Baylor football player who was ruled ineligible in 2015 for accepting a place to live. I can only guess the NCAA felt he should have slept under a bridge. 

A few years before that, UT’s own Bruce Pearl came under scrutiny for having a cookout at his home attended by high school juniors. The fact he lied to NCAA investigators about giving out free burgers was viewed as bad as the cookout itself and Pearl would eventually be fired by the university.

I don’t understand what’s so inherently wrong about allowing college students to earn money. We tell kids from an early age how vital it is to learn a skill so they can make a living, then the NCAA refuses to compensate them for perhaps their best skill – their athleticism.

It’s OK for a college student to win $19,000 for a shot he made without a 6-foot-8, 275-pound defender knocking him to the floor. But a student hustling for 35 minutes a game can’t be paid. It seems our institutes of higher learning are missing the point.