P.Diddy’s son earned his scholarship
Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, June 22, 2012 00:06
Not to put a fine point on it, Justin Combs did not dream that he would be in the crosshairs of political, class and racial heated discussion when UCLA awarded him a $54,000 athletic scholarship.
From the moment Business Informationreported the story on May 30, the news wires crackled with lively energy. John Marshall Crotty writing in Forbesled the charge as to whether the son of a man worth $550 million should receive a $54,000 scholarship to attend cash-strapped UCLA.
Forbesis widely read for its lists of the world’s billionaires and most powerful people. Among the publication’s top 100 powerful celebrities is Justin’s father, Sean “Diddy” Combs who is listed at number 42 with an annual salary of $42 million. Mind you-not his net worth of slightly more than a half-billion, which excludes him from the exclusive billionaires’ club.
Crotty questions the UCLA decision to bestow on the younger Combs a merit-based scholarship; he tarts up his reason in the language of class injury by identifying the lad as a scion of the one percent. In other words, P.Diddy can easily afford the school fees. Furthermore, he links Combs’ scholarship to the more than trillion-dollar student debt, as well as the dire state of the California public university, lack of funding and steep hikes in student fees.
As Forbesoccasional business commentator on education, he uses a 16 percent tuition hike to imply that financially strapped students are paying for rich-boy Combs’ college degree. The logic is spurious, but it strikes a chord of unfairness in the current economic climate, where even an UCLA degree does not necessarily allow entry into the “America middle class” anymore.
Furthermore, he is quick to mention that on the young Justin’s 16th birthday, his father presented him with a chauffeur-driven $360,000 Maybach automobile, “albeit, according to Daddy Diddy, for use only on ‘special occasions.’” Thus, not only is Justin a rich pampered kid, he does not need a “merit scholarship” for which a more worthy, needy candidate should and could profit.
Obviously as a business commentator, Crotty engages in a sleight of cunning deception by not talking about the importance of sports in fattening up a college’s bottom line, its ranking and a way of raising money from rich alumni for its endowment, stadiums and, yes, sports scholarship. And UCLA offers 285 full scholarships a year.
Why does he pick on P.Diddy? Is Combs not a respectable capitalist? Does he not fulfill the American dream of pulling himself up by his own bootstraps? Is he not proof positive that an African American can enter the one percent? The answers are obvious. And yet, there is something about Sean Combs that the moneyed class finds wanting.
On the other hand, Denzel Washington’s son Malcolm won a basketball merit scholarship to the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania. This story is hardly told nor hardly made a ripple in the public’s consciousness.
Washington’s net worth, depending on the source, varies from $300,000 to $600.000. Yet, Forbes’ Crotty would not dare raise the same issues in Malcolm’s case as he did in Justin’s. Denzel is a role model, an Oscar winner and a respectable member of the community. Forbeswould think twice of the public backlash were it to question Malcolm’s qualifications.
Now, it is time to let Justin speak for himself. He is a 2012 graduate of the Christian Brothers’ Iona Prep in New Rochelle, the private Catholic school which charges $12,000 a year in tuition, is not only known for its academic standing, but more importantly for its competitive sports programs.
Academically, young Combs maintained a more than respectable G.P.A. of 3.75. Absent from all the media’s preoccupation with personality, gossip and cliché that has shaped the brouhaha is the plain and simple fact that Justin, an All-American line backer, was inducted in his senior year to the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, reported the New York Post in October 2011.Thus on the basis of merit—academic and athletic—Justin Combs meets UCLA requirements for a merit scholarship. And on that basis alone, he deserves it.
To say otherwise is to make a mockery of the much-valued America ideal of merit, and UCLA is very clear on that matter: “unlike need-based scholarships, athletic scholarships are awarded to students strictly on the basis of their athletic and academic ability—not their financial need.”
Crotty, in spite of his arguing that Justin does not need (nor deserve) the scholarship, weasels his way out of his own argument by appealing to his “libertarian side of me that says that UCLA can do whatever it wants with its private scholarship money, irrespective of the recipient’s background.”But the last word goes to Justin, who tweeted: “Regardless what the circumstances are, I put that work in!!!! PERIOD.”