Almost four months ago to the day, brand new coach Jim Mora and his UCLA football team reeled in one of the top-ranked recruiting classes in the nation.
The class had several top 100 prospects, but one signee, cornerback Justin Combs out of New York, stood out.
Combs is the son of the entertainment mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, who is estimated to be worth about $475 million by Forbes.com.
Touted as a three-star prospect, Justin Combs made a name for himself on the field, earning full-ride scholarship offers from Iowa, Illinois, Virginia and West Virginia before committing to play football at UCLA.
“I think (Justin) has tremendous upside,” UCLA defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin said at a Signing Day event in February. “Football is very important to him and that’s one thing I love about him. He’s not just the son of a star “¦ he really likes football.”
The UCLA football team has 85 scholarship spots every season to distribute as it sees fit, with each holding an estimated value of $50,000 a year.
This past week, media outlets including CNN caught wind of Combs’ scholarship and questioned whether taxpayers should have to pay for Combs’ education when his father is already worth close to half of a billion dollars.
However, athletic departments are liable for funding their own scholarships. This means that there is no connection between taxpayer money and academic- or need-based scholarships offered by athletic departments.
“Unlike need-based scholarships, athletic scholarships are awarded to students strictly on the basis of their athletic and academic ability, and not on a student’s financial need,” UCLA spokesman Ricardo Vasquez said.
“(Athletic) scholarships are entirely funded by athletic department ticket sales, corporate partnerships, media contracts and private donations from supporters.”
Combs will enroll in mid-June and join the team for summer workouts.