Former football player says breaking the rules is part of the game

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PHOENIX -- Scandals within college athletics seem to be discovered with increasing frequency. This is something the NCAA is trying to change. But a former player from one of the top football schools in the country says he went for the money when it was offered and it will be a difficult practice to change.

The Ohio State football team went to the Sugar Bowl last season, but it was all washed away after players were caught selling memorabilia for cash and tattoos.

“You have guys, they don't want to sell their memorabilia,” Paul Green said. “Look at the Ohio State kids. You think they wanted to get rid of that stuff? They didn't. They had to. They don't have families that can support them.”

Green now owns a pilates gym in Phoenix, but in 1984 he was playing tight end for the University of Southern California. He said everyone was excited when they made it to the Rose Bowl his freshman year.

“Everybody, and I mean everybody, including myself, sold your Rose Bowl tickets,” Green said. “You would go meet somebody and get a check for $4,000 or cash. That's why you want to go to a bowl game because you get the money.”

Green said selling tickets was the least of the perks he witnessed. He told me a story about a teammate.

“I said, 'Drive your car back, why?’” Green recalled the conversation. “He said, ‘I'm getting a new one.’  He came from nothing. His family didn't have much. The area where he came from was not a nice area. And I went and picked up a Turbo 911.”

“That was his bonus for joining the team?” I asked.

“I suppose so and this is not exclusive to where I went to school, trust me,” Green responded.

In June, Green's former teammate, Lonnie White, wrote about selling his tickets for $14,000 and how there were other quiet deals made without the coach's knowledge.

“Is it against the rules? Yeah of course it’s against the rules,” Green said. “But the rules are not in favor of the student athlete.”

Green believes student athletes need more financial support given the time requirements of school and workouts. The NCAA is proposing schools grant as much as $2,000 more per year.

Green doubts it will do much to alleviate the problem when there is so much money to be had.

“It’s part of the institution and I don't know that $2,000 is going to change any of that,” Green said.

USC spokesman Tim Tessalone responded to a request for comment by email, saying, “We are not able to comment on allegations pertaining to 20-plus years ago. What I can tell you is that USC is extremely committed, vigilant and compliant in adhering to all NCAA bylaws.”