Tag Archives: Kearston Peoples

The year that was: First half dominated by football success, Michael Sam, DGB troubles

2014’s top stories led by Sam, DGB dismissal, another football title

Part one of two parts

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Darren Hellwege, Sports Commentator

By Darren Hellwege

It’s been an extraordinary year in Missouri sports, both on and off the field of play. As 2015 begins, let’s look back at some of the biggest stories of each month of the last year.

January

The year began with a barn-burner of a football game with Mizzou beating Oklahoma State 41-31 in the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys led in the final five minutes, but a Henry Josey touchdown put Mizzou ahead and a touchdown on a fumble return by Shane Ray cemented the victory. It was something of a torch-passing, as the final game of Kony Ealy and Michael Sam saw a big play by the Tigers’ next great lineman.

Also in January:

  • The men’s basketball team fell from top 25 after an emotional home loss to Georgia.
  • Pat Ivey named Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year by a national organization.
  • MU Athletics Hall of Fame inducted Ashley Wysong (cross country) John Putnam (swimming) Aaron Crow (baseball) and Dan Pippen (basketball).
  • Wrestling bested Oklahoma in battle of top-10 teams
  • Women’s basketball upset Vanderbilt with freshman Kayla McDowell made key contributions off the bench
  • In gymnastics 11 personal bests were set or tied, including 9.90 on beam from Rachel Updike, as Mizzou fell just short against Arkansas

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Fair is fair — Pinkel’s call to pay players should extend to all

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Darren Hellwege, Sports Commentator

Earlier this week on his blog, coach Gary Pinkel endorsed paying college players. Since this is a pretty controversial topic and Pinkel’s not known as a loose cannon with his opinions, it was a little surprising and a gauge of how important this is to him. If you’re close enough to the athletic program to see how the athletes live day to day, this is an understandable position. He genuinely cares about the young men on his team, and the lack of money is a problem for some of them.

On the other hand, he made a very serious error in judgment in how he wants to see it done, one that calls into question the notion of fairness.

Pinkel said it’s fair to “give them additional money per semester or per quarter to help them and pay them back for all their sacrifices,” and he’s right. Yes, they do get a scholarship, in the case of most football players a full scholarship. Their tuition and books and room and food are provided for four years, and that’s not an inconsiderable expense at all. I have kids in college and know the amount of money we’re talking about can be major.

On the other hand, for athletes from families that aren’t well-to-do, it’s still a difficult situation. I’ve known guys who couldn’t afford to take a date out because of lack of money. And while the training table feeds them well, every college kid wants to be able to go to the movies or grab a pizza now and then. Where does that little extra come from?

For many college students, the answer is to go get a part-time job. For example, when I was in school, I was working part-time at a commercial radio station for some extra spending money, just like many work at a restaurant or grocery store. Varsity athletes can’t do that, and that’s probably a good thing. As we’re learning this week from the reports out of Oklahoma State, the old “we hired the big football star for a job at our car dealership” is a situation just asking for abuse.

So yes, absolutely, pay the athletes a small extra amount, not a huge salary but just walking around money that any 20-year-old needs. I agree whole-heartedly with Pinkel on this, and appreciate that he took this stand out of what I consider to be a genuine concern for his athletes.

But…

Sadly, while we hear a lot about the “family” atmosphere within Missouri athletics, Pinkel chose to only support this assistance for male athlete — football and basketball players. That’s terribly wrong, and when he said “it’s only fair” about paying his players, it’s hypocritical to then do something as unfair as to only pay athletes in these big name sports.

It’s wrong for several reasons. Let’s hit the obvious one first—it’s illegal. It’s an obvious violation of Title IX to pay male athletes and not female athletes. Even if it wasn’t morally wrong, you just can’t do it. If they’re going to pay athletes, they’re going to have to do it for all the athletes.

The female athletes, and those men in other sports, put in just as much time as the football and basketball players, and face the same obstacles to getting a part time job as the football or basketball guys.

Pinkel raised the fact that these sports bring in millions of dollars. That shouldn’t have a thing to do with this. Turning a profit is not the purpose of the University of Missouri or the athletic program. There’s a place for “rewarding” athletes for “creating revenue,” and that’s the NFL and NBA. College isn’t about that at all, the theory of “it’s valuable if it makes money” does not belong in higher education.

The idea of “football and men’s basketball bring in all the loot” isn’t true across the board at all. In many schools the cost of a football program exceeds revenue. To make this work, every school has to pay the same amount to all players. If you think recruiting is a mess now, wait till you see what happens when there’s an open bidding war for the top 15-year-old wide receiver phenom in the nation. God save us.

Also, the amount of money being created by the sports of James Franklin and Phil Pressey isn’t greater than that of the sports of Kearston Peoples or David Bonuchi because James and Phil are much better at their sport. Mizzou spends a great deal more advertising and publicizing the “major sports,” and the media pays a great deal more attention to them. Every day in the newspaper, on the radio and TV, the superstars of football and men’s basketball are given the spotlight, while athletes who may be equally deserving in other sports don’t receive that advantage. That’s why most of you are scratching your heads and going “who’s that?” when I just mentioned the SEC Diver of the Year and member of the USA Diving Team (Bonuchi) and an All-American shot putter (Peoples).

Bonuchi has everything a college sports hero should have, were he in a sport we paid more attention to. He’s a three-time All-American and SEC Diver of the Year. He’s a hometown boy who attended Hickman High School, is on the USA Diving Team, made All-SEC academically, is the son of two Mizzou grads and has movie-idol good looks.  But because there aren’t ads running all day for the swim team and because the media isn’t talking about them constantly, he’s not a household name and his team isn’t a revenue producer. The same goes for Peoples, one of the top shot putters in the nation.

It’s certainly through no fault of their own that their sports aren’t money makers, and that shouldn’t be the standard upon which we choose who is and isn’t worthy.  Even the biggest names, like Chelsea Thomas or Molly Kreklow, aren’t known off campus the way Gary Pinkel’s and Frank Haith’s Tigers are, but that’s not really what ought to matter.

But if the University of Missouri is going to pay extra so Tiger athletes can have a little less hardship from being part of varsity sports, Kearston, David, Chelsea and Molly are just as deserving as Dorial, James, and Phil.

Pay them? Absolutely.

But pay them all.

Darren Hellwege is a member of Football Writers Association of America and United States Basketball Writers Association