Trevor Mbakwe has become a familiar name around the state of Minnesota. He will be playing not his first, or third, not even his fifth year as a golden gopher, BUT his sixth year! That’s right six consecutive years playing for the same college basketball organization. All university expenses paid for of course….Trevor grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota and has not left the area since. Or as some might say a loyal Minnesota kid. Mbakwe is the starting power forward for the Minnesota Golden Gophers men’s basketball team.
Mbakwe’s last season was cut short. A serious injury resulted in Mbakwe playing in only 9 games. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Therefore, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) decided to grant the 6’8 starter with another year of eligibility. Mbakwe has already received an undergraduate degree in parks and recreation (not kidding) and he will no pursue his masters at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Quite an achievement as most players typically receive only an undergraduate degree. That’s if they don’t drop out of school and follow NBA dreams first.
It gives me the opportunity to play another year of college basketball and hopefully contribute to a team that showed it can be dangerous. It also provides me with the opportunity to leave the university with a Master’s degree. That means a ton to me. Not many athletes have that chance to get multiple degrees during their stay, and unfortunately it took an injury for me to have this opportunity, but I am going to take full advantage of it. I am excited to get back on the court with my teammates.
Well Mbakwe’s educational milestones are inspiring questions arise. If the NCCA makes and exception for this injury, are there going to be more players trying to extend their eligibility? Will Mbakwe be fully healed by the time the season starts? Will the gophers actually have a good basketball season? Ok…ok…before I get too off topic. The real questions are why do college athletes seem to get so many chances and free passes? Let’s say someone was on an academic scholarship for a set period of 4 years? Would that person get the same extension? Well I cannot say for sure but it seems unlikely.
Mbakwe is not the first to get athlete to get special treatment and he certainly will not be the last. There have been reports of college athletes receiving cars, houses, and even getting paid under the table. Although I love college sports and do think that these athletes should be rewarded for the all time and energy that they put into training, practicing, travelling and games. It can’t help but bring up the question when is time to say enough is enough? A FREE college education should be enough. Many people spend years paying off student loans. These men and women are given the chance to improve their lives far into the future. Less then 2% of college basketball players actually go pro. However, they are rewarded with something at graduation. A free piece of paper. A college degree.