Sean Combs' son, Justin Combs, has been granted a full athletic scholarship to UCLA, which is sparking debate over whether or not he should receive it, considering his father's wealth and influence.
Back in November, the news broke that Justin Combs had accepted a full merit-based scholarship to play football for UCLA. But now, some local taxpayers and students are questioning whether the $54,000 scholarship is fair considering that Justin's dad topped Forbes' wealthiest hip-hop artists list last month after it was reported that he was worth more than half a billion dollars.
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"UCLA's athletic department needs to consider the fact that perhaps there is another athlete on the football team who could perhaps really use this scholarship," UCLA student Neshemah Keetin told Los Angeles' CBS News affiliate. "Just being considerate that [with] our economy, students are trying to get to college through athletics and academics as well."
Once the news broke last year, a proud Puff Daddy issued a statement in support of his son. At that point, Justin's detractors hadn't voiced their displeasure. "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," he said. "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."
Justin graduated with a 3.75 GPA from Iona Prep high school in New Rochelle, New York, where he was a top-rated cornerback. He received scholarship offers from state universities in Illinois, Virginia and Wyoming. During a CNN interview, the network's education contributor Dr. Steve Perry defended the young athlete. "He's done what he needs to do to be successful, and in a meritocracy we have to accept that no matter who your father is, whether he be rich, poor or absent, that you can in fact be successful on your own merit," he said. "There's nothing free about a Division I athletic scholarship. It's 40 hours-plus of work on campus every single week in order to maintain that scholarship."
UCLA spokesman Ricardo Vazquez echoed Perry's sentiment, explaining that the scholarship was based on Combs' talent on the football field and not his financial need. "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."