During the 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament, University of Louisville guard Kevin Ware suffered one of the most gruesome injuries ever seen on national television.
Millions of fans witnessed Ware’s lower right leg bone snap in half and protrude from his skin as he landed after attempting to block an opposing player’s shot.
The injury was so horrifying that it caused several nearby teammates to collapse to the floor, crying.
“The bone’s 6 inches out of his leg and all he’s yelling is, ‘Win the game, win the game,’” Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said after the game. “He’s a pretty special young man.”
After Louisville was crowned National Champions and the story faded away from the national spotlight, where did that leave Ware?
Almost without a scholarship, according to some published accounts.
Since Louisville officials have announced that Ware is on track to be game-ready at the start of the 2013-14 season, chatter that his scholarship might be pulled has ceased. But nothing in NCAA rules would have prevented the college from pulling Ware’s scholarship and giving it to a healthy player.
His situation brought to light a very serious question:
Why are colleges allowed to revoke scholarships of injured athletes?
There are approximately 380,000 college athletes, and on average, 12,500 of them suffer some sort of injury every year, according to a study done by livestrong.com.
In most cases, scholarships are awarded on a year-to-year basis, which means a school is not obligated to keep players.
It is said that “student” is supposed to come before “athlete.” So why is it that if injured in competition, an athlete loses the privilege of being a student?
This issue has gained attention at the major university level, but it is occurring at colleges of all sizes all over the country.
Coaches have little control over the situation.
They are given a limited number of scholarships to work with and no matter how much they may care about an athlete’s well-being, it is still their job to do what is in the best interest of the program.
Blame needs to be attributed to the governing bodies of college athletics. Whether it be the NCAA, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics or the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges, change is needed at all levels of college sports.
Schools should be held responsible for the athletes they profit from, and that starts with protecting those injured in competition.
A full-ride scholarship should mean just that. If a school promises an athlete that their tuition will be paid for as long as they are attending that school, then that promise needs to be kept, whether the athlete is healthy or not.