Michael Bradley may be the most unselfish individual in the world. The center/forward on UConn's men's basketball team may have followed the Boy Scout motto to "Be Prepared" and stashed away about $40,000, and that's why he is giving up his scholarship to incoming freshman Andre Drummond.
Somehow, it doesn't feel that way. It feels as though the UConn program, already on thin ice with the NCAA, has found another way to massage the rules.
Drummond, a native of Middletown, Conn., had reportedly been planning to attend Wilbraham & Monson Academy in Wilbraham, Mass., for a postgraduate year before joining one of four Big East schools or Kentucky in 2012. That changed when Bradley, a 6-foot-10, 235-pound redshirt freshman from Chattanooga, Tenn., apparently gave up his athletic scholarship for Drummond to become a Husky immediately.
UConn, of course, is operating with 10 scholarships, three fewer than the normal allotment, due to a cocktail of NCAA violations and poor academic performance. The Huskies had eight returning players and committed both remaining scholarships to incoming freshmen. There was no place for Drummond, who would immediately make UConn a contender for a repeat national championship, unless…
Unless a player gave up his scholarship. For the good of the program, or whatever. The simple explanation is that Bradley is unselfish, but it's more complicated than that.
As anyone with student loans knows, an education is costly. The estimated yearly expenses for full-time undergraduates at UConn for out-of-state students is $38,616. Giving that up is not a small gesture. And even if Bradley receives financial aid, as a public institution, UConn only has so many funds to dole out. Bradley receiving 38 large means another, possibly more deserving or needy student, doesn't get that money.
Higher education is, unfortunately, a zero-sum game. Although fundraising is a year-round chore, there is a certain amount of money in the pot each year, and it can only be broken up in so many ways. Despite what some have suggested on message boards, a wealthy UConn alum cannot simply donate the money to pay for Bradley's education. The NCAA would probably see that as an attempt to skirt the scholarship restrictions it imposed; let's face it, that's exactly what it would be.
Give credit to Bradley and hope UConn takes care of him in the future the same way he's taking care of them now. Let's hope that's all it is.
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