In an Atlantic cover story, Pulitzer-prize winning historian Taylor Branch argued that when it comes to college sports, “the real scandal is not that students are getting illegally paid or recruited, it’s that two of the noble principles on which the NCAA justifies its existence — ‘amateurism’ and the ‘student-athlete’ — are cynical hoaxes, legalistic confections propagated by the universities so they can exploit the skills and fame of young athletes. The tragedy at the heart of college sports is not that some college athletes are getting paid but that more of them are not.” A month later, Branch’s critique became all the more relevant when a grand jury report revealed that Penn State had protected its powerful and lucrative football program at the expense of underage boys who allegedly were sexually assaulted by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
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