College Player and Thunder Fan Might Not Keep $20K for Making Halfcourt Shot

by November 26, 2013

In case you somehow aren’t convinced yet that college athletics are the absolute worst, let us help you out. 23-year-old Cameron Rodriguez is one of the dudes who knocked in a halfcourt bomb at an OKC Thunder game last week; Rodriguez also happens to be a college hoops player, and his school doesn’t want him to keep the dough he won. Per Bloomberg News: “Rodriguez, a basketball player at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, made the shot Nov. 18 during halftime of the National Basketball Association team’s game against the Denver Nuggets. Now he and his school are asking the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for a rules exception that would allow him to use the money as a scholarship to help pay his tuition. ‘I didn’t really think about it at first because I was way too excited,’ Rodriguez said in a telephone interview. ‘After things settled down, I realized we might have an issue because I was receiving a large amount of money.’ […] The NAIA student guide says athletes cannot use their sports ability or fame for financial reward. John Leavens, the executive director of the NAIA Eligibility Center, said rulings on these cases typically take one to two weeks. ‘It would certainly hurt his cause if he had tried to circumvent the rules,’ Leavens said in a telephone interview. ‘The fact that he connected with the right officials to make sure that he understood the proper application of the rule is something that we expect, and we’re glad to see.’ Every one of Southwestern College’s 1,700 students receives financial aid through institutional grants to help with the $23,000 annual tuition, according to Brenda Hicks, the school’s director of financial aid. Rodriguez, who is on a $4,000 athletic scholarship, said he pays roughly $33,000 per year when he adds room, board, books and other fees. If the NAIA says he can’t use the money as a scholarship, Rodriguez said, MidFirst Bank offered to donate it to a charity in his name. Rodriguez said he probably would choose between a non-profit set up to help the Southwestern basketball program, or a group through the Thunder’s work with local children — ‘a thank you for the opportunity and the experience,’ he said.”