COLLEGE presidents who make up the board of directors of the National Collegiate Athletic Association have decided athletes at the 300 large schools in its Division I category can have part-time jobs.
It was not an easy decision, but it was the right one. Denying athletes the same opportunity to earn money as other students makes some of them more susceptible to offers of bribes and under-the-table money from alumni and agents.
Having said it is OK for athletes to work, the NCAA now has a greater task -- monitoring jobs and employers to prevent abuses. Enforcement is possible only if coaches keep a close eye on what is happening at their schools. As with other NCAA rules, severe sanctions can discourage violations.
The rule says athletes who have been enrolled for one year can earn up to $2,000 a year. They can work while their sport is in season; they cannot work for the athletic department. Boosters will be allowed to arrange jobs for students.
But that stipulation should be changed if cheating is discovered, as was the case when boosters were allowed to recruit athletes.
Thousands of young men and women playing major college sports help generate millions of dollars for their schools in TV money and other compensation. Some of these same athletes have trouble paying for clothes and other essentials that don't come with their athletic scholarships. They should be able to bTC earn extra money, but only under close scrutiny that can limit abuse.
Pub Date: 5/02/98