POV Roundtable Call-In & a Serious Question

OK – we have a lot to talk about this evening with the just past game against PSU and an upcoming game against #9 Oklahoma State University.  I’ll post some topics later on but there is a question I want to ask our readers first.

In the last article we had a comments thread regarding Pitt football players and football scholarships.  I have a distinct point of view on this and others differ.  But let me ask you this.

Why, as Pitt does in injury cases or illnesses that preclude a recruit from competing on the team and having a place on the roster, is it OK to give them scholarships outside of the 85 allowed by the NCAA so they can fulfill their educational goals at Pitt? We saw this happen in the past but most recently with recruits George Hill and Justin Moody – as a matter of fact Narduzzi said this about that situation:

Each of these young men are very passionate about the game of football, and our heart goes out to them,” Narduzzi said in a statement. “Although they will not be able to play this fall, each of them will remain an active and important part of our family.

They are, and will always be, Panthers. We are going to make sure they continue to benefit from a University of Pittsburgh education and being an important member of our football program.”

I bolded that last part as it strikes to the heart of this issue. “They are and always will be Panthers” – even if they never contribute in any way to the actual playing of football.

Then at the same time some fans think it is perfectly OK for Pitt to remove a player from scholarship just because he isn’t a starter; on the two-deep or significantly contributing on the field of play?  I’m talking about players who are not dismissed by academic failure or disciplinary reasons… or attitudinal problems as we saw happen five years ago.

We have also seen at Pitt players who may not have been wanted on the roster any longer and Pitt has worked to ensure they land elsewhere to finish both their football career and educations – that is reasonable in my eyes.

In one case the player who is  ill or has a career ending injury  will never contribute one iota toward winning football games, yet he’s carried on a full ride and given the opportunity to get his promised degree from Pitt – that promise BTW is a written pact between the University and the player and his parents – we recruit student/athletes to not only play for Pitt but to be able to earn a University of Pittsburgh degree in four years.

Fans may not fully realize this but I have spent a lot of time talking with recruits and their parents/grandparents over the years and a degree from Pitt is many times the tipping point on why a player comes here instead of elsewhere.

In the other case we have a marginal player who keeps his nose clean, meets all the academic standards and busts his ass out there in every single practice, scrimmage, team film, team meetings and weight room work with his teammates to try to make the program and team as good as it can be.

Then he’s punished by yanking his scholarship and taking away the opportunity of a Pitt degree that he may very much desire because the coaching staff thinks they may not win as much because he’s on roster.

I’ll personally say this – I very much agree with two of these three scenarios – we should honor a incapacitated player’s scholarship and we should help players that are willing, or even want to, to leave the roster to go elsewhere.

However I absolutely do not agree that we should ever deny a Pitt degree (in four years) to any member of the football team who meets and/or exceeds the actual University’s requirements to be an athlete in good standing at the university. Which means fours year to get your degree as long as there are no negative issues.

Doesn’t this quote also apply to the hardworking Panther who may not be a starter but is there working everyday and doing everything and sometimes more than the school and staff ask him to do?

“They are, and will always be, Panthers. We are going to make sure they continue to benefit from a University of Pittsburgh education and being an important member of our football program.”

I’m curious as to what others think about this because I believe this strikes directly at the heart of what college athletics should be about and how Pitt should conduct itself in these matters.

And let’s not play the’ I know more than he does about this’ game with the question above as it probably isn’t true and isn’t pertinent to the thoughts at hand anyway.

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