While sports professionals are happy to see that the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) will set up a task force to consider illegal payments of student-athletes at NCAA schools, they hope that something substantive will come from the effort.

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond is the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. (Courtesy Photo)

“I hope that this is not a dog-and-pony show,” said Marvin Tucker Sr., the executive director of the District of Columbia-based OCASE Foundation which helps young people appreciate the value of athletics and academics through various programs.

On March 8, the CBC announced it is launching an NCAA task force that will be led by U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), the chairman of the organization, “in light of recent reports” about NCAA rule violations regarding the payment of student-athletes.

“The purpose of this task force is to assess the treatment of student-athletes, including the extent to which they are able to get a college education, and the money that influences college sports, including the revenue that is generated by the student-athletes themselves,” Richmond said in a statement. “In the coming weeks, the CBC will engage college players, coaches and administrators, as well as leaders at the NCAA to determine what if anything needs to be done at the federal level to ensure student-athletes are getting what they’re giving to our most prestigious colleges and universities.”

The CBC is basing its contentions on a Feb. 23 article on Yahoo Sports that detailed the “loan” payments to college athletes that are in violation of NCAA rules. University and college athletes are forbidden to receive financial assistance from non-family members because their athletic and academic careers are covered by NCAA universities totally.

However, the scholarship doesn’t allow student-athletes much spending money and they can get employment but it must be approved by the university in accordance to NCAA guidelines.

The problem for many African-American students, particularly those who play Division I football and basketball, is that they tend to come from low-income and working-class families and often cannot afford out of pocket to pay for the colleges and universities they attend. This is when certain people, like runners (front men) for sports agents, agents themselves, and boosters of the institutions, give athletes money or gifts in violation of NCAA based on being benevolent or helping a young person.

Archie Beslow is the head junior varsity football coach at Archbishop Carroll High School in the District of Columbia. He has a non-profit, “Coach 2 Mentor” and has published a book “The Parent, The Coach, The Mentor.”

Beslow has coached several Carroll students that have gotten college football scholarships and knows the athletic college recruiting landscape well. Beslow told the AFRO that he is encouraged by the CBC task force. “Everybody should be held to high standards and that includes the NCAA,” he said. “Young people should be going to college to get a degree and an education not just to play sports. I understand that things do go on at these institutions but the rules should be followed if they aren’t changed.”

When asked whether student-athletes should be paid in addition to their scholarship, Beslow said yes. “I think they should be paid,” he said. “These young people generate a lot of money for these colleges and often have nothing to show for it.”

Tucker hopes that the CBC NCAA task force is beneficial for student-athletes. “We have had round tables and discussions about the problems that Black student-athletes have and what has happened and from my viewpoint, not much,” he said.

Tucker said the CBC should focus on student-athletes who often don’t get to go to the professional level and leave college without a degree and little education. “They aren’t marketable and they have to go to work at K-Mart at the cashier level,” he said. “That’s not right.”

Tucker said it costs about $42,000 a year to attend the University of Maryland, College Park and that’s hard for a college student to pay. “A typical D.C. resident cannot pay that and neither can most Marylanders,” he said. “If not for the athletic scholarship, they would have to take out student loans and they will leave college in debt with or without a degree.”

Tucker said the CBC should not solely have college presidents, elite athletic directors and athletes to testify before it. “They need to have the parents of these student-athletes to testify also,” he said.