Sunday Sports Mailbag

Pay college athletes like they’re employees

So the FBI found out elite college hoopsters, families and second cousins were being paid.

No way.

Geez, Louise: This has been going on since I was in college — and I’m old.

This again opens the discussion that scholarship athletes should be paid, and they really have an unfair deal during their one year in school before turning pro (for basketball).

It’s apparent the $100,000/year in free education, room, board, four-star hotels on road trips, four-course meals, free tutoring, first choices on classes to fit practice schedules, prize bags for postseason tournaments with hundreds of dollars in goodies etc., are not quite enough, and dare I say, never mentioned when this discussion comes up on ESPN.

The solution is simple. Stop trying to regulate all this and pay the athletes like they were employees.

The quarterbacks who are up for the Heisman will get more than the third-string tight end. The power forward who averages 20 and 10 makes more than the guys on the end of the bench who hold each other back when said stud hammers home a thunderous dunk.

Pay ’em. It’s free enterprise. Just make sure they get the tuition bill.

This doesn’t come from a dad with nerdy kids in some jealous rage. My kids played college sports, not good enough for a free ride, but they had a great experience.

I have to go now. I’m trying to figure out how to finalize a 15-year loan on the $87,000 they owe so the interest doesn’t eat us alive.

Jeff Bartlett


Barbour facing basketball decisions

With winter just about over, the only major winter sports program that is healthy is Penn State’s dynamic wrestling program.

That is one program that needs no evaluation to improve.

Our men’s ice hockey team is rebuilding and has already begun signs of rejuvenation after whipping Minnesota twice last weekend.

This sport is a major program.

Let’s move to several other major winter programs that need very serious attention and require major changes at the top.

I really respect Pat Chambers, who takes steps to do the right things, but Chambers has never been a Big Ten caliber coach. This — his seventh year — was his best year but still not good enough to make it to the Big Dance, and he probably never will.

Here is the dilemma faced by athletic director Sandy Barbour, who is faced with the decision on what to do with Chambers after this year.

Her decision making is complicated by the fact that Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins — along with freshmen Nazeer Bostick and Jamari Wheeler and junior Josh Reaves — make up the nucleus for this program for at least another year.

They are very talented players who will be looked at by NBA teams. Having said that, if Barbour keeps Chambers another year, some of these players mentioned have the freedom to move to other programs that make it to the NCAA Tournament nearly every year.

Or she can make the call to fire Chambers at the end of the Big Ten Tournament, knowing Penn State will not make the NCAAs. She has to do something to convince the core of the best to remain at Penn State and go out and spend the money to hire a coach that can turn this program around.

Don’t forget that consistent winning brings in the money and the fans. So that is the $64,000 question: Will she or won’t she make this move?

Now, the women’s basketball program under Coquese Washington has staggered for the last number of years. She is not recruiting the type of players that can compete in the Big Ten, and her staff of coaches has been inefficient and made no impact to improve this program.

It is my feeling that Barbour must start here to make both programs better and hire the personnel to recruit better players.

There are Cael Sandersons and James Franklins out there, but to lure them to come to Penn State takes big money.

Les Hart