Peyton Barber was the starting running back for Auburn this year. Barber rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2015, making him one of the bright spots on an aggressively mediocre Auburn team. Barber helped Auburn football pull in over $110 million this year, but his mother is homeless.
Barber might be a name with which Ole Miss fans are familiar. Barber committed to the Rebels early in the recruiting process for the 2013 class, but switched his pledge to Auburn in January of 2013. He redshirted his first year on Plains, and only got 54 carries in six games for the Tigers in 2014. Barber took off in 2015, however, after Roc Thomas got hurt and Jovon Robinson took a while to get accustomed to the system.
Barber was supposed to return for his redshirt junior season at Auburn in 2016, but he didn’t. He declared for the NFL draft in January. It was a move that many questioned at the time, as Barber wasn’t listed in the top rounds of NFL draft projections. It was a move that left some Auburn fans puzzled. It was a move that probably didn’t help him get drafted as high as possible. On Wednesday, however, the move confused nobody.
“My mother is homeless right now,” Barber said on Wednesday at the NFL combine, revealing why he decided to leave school so early.
That statement will be the calling card of every critic of the NCAA’s policies against paying student athletes. That statement is heartbreaking. That statement makes you realize that the players we root for on Saturday aren’t professionals—they’re people.
The NCAA recorded $3.4 billion in revenue in 2014 (The numbers aren’t readily available for 2015) in college football alone. Again, Auburn football made more than $110 million in 2015, and Barber can receive nothing more than a scholarship because anything more is a violation.
I get it. I really do. There’s a need to keep a certain extent of amateurism in college athletics— but come on. It shouldn’t be a violation when someone sleeps at his girlfriend’s house– otherwise 90 percent of college campuses would be ineligible. It shouldn’t be a violation because a 10-year-old got a Make-A-Wish benefit, and 10 years later he wants to play NCAA football.
The NCAA had to have meetings to deem a guy eligible because he played recreational league football overseas fighting for our country. I’m not kidding.
There’s an element of common sense that needs to be displayed by the NCAA. There’s an element of humanity that needs to be displayed by the NCAA.
So, I’m not asking too much. I’m not. I’m just asking that, in a league that made $3.4 billion from football alone in a calendar year, to let one of their institutions help one of its athletes out if he doesn’t have food. I’m just asking that a corporation that made more than $3 billion in 2014 to allow an institution to help one of its athletes out if his mother is without a home. I’m just asking for common sense and a dose of humanity.