Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University and pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeye baseball team from 1971 through 1974.  He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league league umpire for seven years, working in the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA).  He has written for numerous websites and outdoor publications, and for the past ten years has served as a regular columnist and photo editor for Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press.  Widely knowledgeable on that period of American History, Fulks is a frequent speaker on the Civil War at local roundtables throughout the Midwest. He and wife Mindy have two grown children and live in Covington, Ohio.


You won’t necessarily agree with me, but hey, does that really matter?  This has to be said…some words on why the rest of us look at those who call themselves “student athletes” in college sports today and turn up our noses!

Paul Daugherty beat me to the punch!

“P. Doc” is the outstanding columnist for the Cincinnati Enquirer who wrote Wednesday about the five starters from the Kentucky basketball team that announced Tuesday that they would be declaring for the NBA draft.  No surprise there, of course.

And that wasn’t what put Daugherty’s and my panties in a wad, as I write my own rant today.

No, it was the University of Kentucky and coach John Calipari referring to the likes of Anthony Davis and Doron Lamb as “student athletes” as they made their announcements.  And thanks for the lead-in, Paul.  I’ll take it from here.

One NCAA basketball title and one and a-half semesters on campus…and they call them “student athletes”.  Talk about your taking liberties with a phrase that used to make sense?

I, too, was once a “student athlete” at Ohio State University…the Ohio State that used to accept those who scored 24 on the ACT and graduated high school with a 3.5 GPA.  By the way, that won’t necessarily get you in anymore, unless you can run the 40 in four seconds and play linebacker.  But I digress.  As a “student athlete” I actually carried 24 quarter hours winter quarter of my junior year so I could have time for travel with the baseball team come spring.  I still remember my GPA for that quarter…a solid 3.0!

Of course, this was back when most of us worked two summer jobs to help pay for a college education…even the ones like me who had a scholarship.  This was before the current days of schools signing a class of athletes guaranteed to compete for a title, fill seats and generate millions…who would in time appear on the Monday Night Football player intros, claiming to be from “The” Ohio State University.

No degree, of course, and that doesn’t seem to matter now.  But trust it…it would have been a big, big deal on Lane and High Streets 40 years ago!

And can I get an “Amen, brother” on that, Bruce Hooley?

John Calipari assured everyone Tuesday…that Davis, Lamb, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Davis and Marquis Teague would be finishing their school term.  Their school term? 

Didn’t he mean their “degrees”?

And how stupid does Calipari and the University of Kentucky think the rest of us are when they say stuff like that?  Or, how stupid are those who went to UK who want to believe that crap when they say it?  Their school term?  You must be very, very proud.

Please allow now for some “snark”.

Kentucky is not alone, of course.  Jared Sullinger is taking his considerable and comprehensive game from OSU to the NBA…and he’s about the get “schooled”, the first time Tim Duncan drops 30 on him.  Sullinger couldn’t guard the likes of Duncan and Pau Gasol in a phone booth.  Hey…make some free throws with the game on the line, huh?  Then go pro.

Of course, I can appreciate that each of the Kentucky five will leave school with a few million in their pocket.  And I’m reminded all the time by those more contemporary in sports than I…that that’s what the game is all about now.  You get your money when and while you can…call it being “educated”.  Oh, and don’t forget to tell us on MNF…what school you’re from.

What an insult to the rest of the real class of 2014 that’ll work two jobs this summer so they can go back for the next “term”!

But some more “snark”, if you please.  History proves that three of the five will go through their millions like my Uncle Bob used to go through a carton of Pall Malls and a case of Busch Lite.  By Wednesday he was always out of beer and smokes.

By the way, I actually graduated  from Ohio State, along with just about every other “student athlete” that I played with.  And like the NCAA ad used to say, nearly all of us went “pro” in something other than sports…to make our millions the hard way.  I’m sure the NCAA officials looked at and listened to Calipari and “the Class of 2012” Tuesday and busted with pride.

Nothing wrong with what they did, of course.  It’s all within in the current system of being a “student athlete”, the one that used to make sense.

But if that’s what being a “student athlete” is all about…and if Kentucky fans are hanging out their Love Ya’ Blue signs today with respect and support of their latest title…I have to wonder how many horses will come to the post at the Derby in two weeks wearing caps and gowns, the equine equivalent of a “student athlete” in the Bluegrass State?

I wonder how many will quit at the quarter pole and call it good?


Give it up for the horse that wins.  At least he “finished” the race.