Around the University TownThe Starting Bloke“We don’t buy athletes...”

“We don’t buy athletes…”


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That’s Dean Sinco’s curt retort to coaches of the Foundation University varsity sports program when they complain about the difficulty of recruiting varsity athletes who position themselves on the “auction block.”

These athletes elect to enroll in academic institutions that promise them the highest cash and material incentives without considering the quality of education that these institutions will provide them. Educational institutions with quality academic programs usually prescribe strict performance standards that athletes must meet to play and satisfy the academic requirements.

Recruitment of athletes for school sports is a controversial practice which, in the case of the United States for example, merited the intervention of the US Congress because of abuses committed by member institutions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, an intercollegiate sports league that early Filipino sports directors and founding members from UP, UST, FEU, and NU, ever manifesting the Filipino trait of proverbial copycats, have adopted back in 1924.

Perusing the internet, I noted several laws passed by the US Congress which prescribe regulations on the recruitment of athletes. The most recent of these are the Uniform Athlete Agent Act of 2000, and the Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act of 2004. Both laws define the procedure which recruiting agents must observe when dealing with potential athletes to enroll in college institutions.

Still more recently, the American NCAA, after a four-year investigation on recruiting violations, imposed the following sanctions on perennial collegiate athletic power University of Southern California: “The USC football team cannot participate in Bowl Games for the year 2010 and 2011 seasons which will cost the Trojans millions of dollars…and it will lose 10 scholarships and severe recruiting restrictions.”

In the Metro Manila NCAA, the recruitment of foreign athletes to beef up local teams had been questioned as it unduly paces smaller and less- financially-endowed schools in a disadvantaged position.

Foreign players from Southeast Asian countries, Asia, Australia, Africa and the USA were paraded in the opening of current 86th NCAA basketball competitions. While some schools justify the use of foreign players who come to the Philippines for cheaper quality education, others complain that their athletic budget cannot support the cost of subsiding the studies of recruited foreign athletes.

Just how much does an institution subsidize the studies of varsity players recruited to represent it in athletic leagues? The following figures are estimates from the cost of tuition and other expenses that FU provides for its athletes this academic year: a) tuition for grade school football — P372,086, b) tuition for high school football— P359,944, c) tuition for college varsity football men & women, volleyball men & women, basketball men, athletics, sepak takraw — P934,200, d) lunch at cafeteria for 10 months — 920,000, e) Saturday post- run breakfast for 10 months — P72,000, f) uniforms — P50,000, g) kettlebells strength training — P211,806, h) Unigames fees — P43,000. These adds up to P2,963,036.

The above total does not include the cost of participation in local and out-of-town competitions, and taking part in the PRISAA which is a requirement for all institutions collecting the PRISAA fee. Sports Director Paultom Paras tells me that the FU annual sports budget is about P3.5 million.

When we recruit athletes, we emphasize to them that playing and winning championships is secondary to their studies, and the quest for a college degree. All athletes who fail the prelims, mid-terms or final examinations immediately lose their scholarship.

We provide tutorial services for athletes needing help in passing their subjects. We team up with parents, guidance counselors, and secure the support of college deans and instructors. We regularly monitor their health and fitness. And as seen above, we provide them one free meal a day taken either as breakfast or as lunch.

At FU, we judge the success of our varsity program not on the number of championships won by our athletes in league competitions but on the number of athletes who, at graduation time, march across the stage to receive their diplomas.

This piece about collegiate varsity sports budgets reminds me of the time the late Jose Ravello, then director of the SU Athletics, and my coach in the Third Asian Games in Tokyo, visited me at the UP Institute of Sports, Physical Education & Recreation. I asked him how much was his sports budget. “My God, Coach, that’s my budget for one month!” I exclaimed when he revealed to me his program budget.

After his visit, I recommended to my President OD Corpuz that we abrogate the annual UP-Silliman Dual Meet. There was no way SU could be competitive with UP which, at that time, was the over-all UAAP back-to-back general champion.

Speaking of SU, here’s a happy note that I hope the local SU community will consider emulating.The Silliman University Cebu Alumni will stage the Silliman Run 2010 this Aug. 22, 2010 at the Terraces in Ayala Center-Cebu. There will be three race categories: 3K, 5K and 10K. This will be a fund-raising activity. The registration fee is P250. There will be a P50.00 price cut on the registration fee for those who register early. On- site registrants will pay an additional P50.00 registration fee. The SU alums in Cebu are in tune with the current running boom.

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