Should the son of a rap mogul reject the athletic scholarship money he's been offered? UCLA officials don't think so, and neither do most of more than 40,000 participants in an ESPN.com poll. By a 2-to-1 margin, respondents answered "No" when asked if Justin Combs, whose father is Sean "Diddy" Combs, should turn down UCLA's $54,000 scholarship offer to play football this fall for the Bruins.
The elder Combs boasts a net worth roughly 10,000 times that amount of aid, or $550 million. The University of California system is in severe financial straits. Doesn't matter, according to a UCLA statement released Wednesday.
"Unlike need-based scholarships, athletic scholarships are awarded to students strictly on the basis of their athletic and academic ability - not their financial need," the statement read. "Athletic scholarships, such as those awarded to football or basketball players, do not rely on state funds. Instead, these scholarships are entirely funded through UCLA Athletics ticket sales, corporate partnerships, media contracts and private donations from supporters. Each year, UCLA awards the equivalent of approximately 285 full athletic scholarships to outstanding student-athletes. The scholarships are used by the UCLA Department of Intercollegiate Athletics to pay students' tuition and fees, as well as room and board. In this respect, UCLA is no different from the overwhelming majority of Division I institutions."
Justin Combs, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound cornerback, reportedly earned a 3.75 grade-point average while at Iona Prep in New Rochelle, N.Y. He chose UCLA in November over Iowa, Virginia and Illinois. "It was like love at first sight when I visited there," Combs told ESPNNewYork.com. "I loved the whole tradition of UCLA and the school and the academics and just everything about it."
Sean Combs, whose hits include "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down," was born in a Harlem housing project. Two years ago, he bought a $360,000 car as his son's 16th birthday present. At the time of Justin's UCLA commitment, the rapper stated through his PR firm, "As a parent, today is one of the proudest moments of my life. This is everything a father could want for his son, for him to excel at what he loves to do and is truly passionate about. Justin is a shining example of what hard work, determination and a strong mentality can achieve. I am honored to call him my son and am happy that he is fulfilling his dream."