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UCLA says scholarship for 'Diddy' Combs' son won't hurt needy students

June 1, 2012 |  7:31 am

Justin Combs and Sean "Diddy" Combs attend the 2011 Jackie Robinson Foundation Awards Gala in March 2011.

UCLA is defending the decision to give a football scholarship to the son of hip-hop mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs.

Officials said the money used for Combs' merit-based athletic scholarship wouldn't affect need-based scholarships awarded to other students.

University spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said athletic scholarships were "entirely funded by Athletic Department ticket sales, corporate partnerships, media contracts and private donations" and "do not rely on state funds."

"There is a big separation between financial aid based on need and how that's funded and how athletic scholarships are funded and awarded to students," he said.

Granting the scholarship to the recent graduate of New York's New Rochelle Iona Prep has generated debate about whether the cash-strapped school should pay for the education of the son of a man worth an estimated $475 million — and whether the 18-year-old should have accepted the offer.

Justin Combs took to Twitter to defend his scholarship.

"Regardless what the circumstances are, I put that work in!!!!" he tweeted on Wednesday. "PERIOD."

"Regardless of what you do in life every1 is gonna have their own opinion," he tweeted. "Stay focused, keep that tunnel vision & never 4get why u started."

It's not the first time the child of a wealthy celebrity has received a full ride, and many students said they weren't that concerned since it wasn't affecting need-based aid.

Combs — a 5-foot-9, 170-pound defensive back who reportedly graduated with a 3.75 GPA — announced in November he would attend UCLA, turning down scholarship offers from Illinois, Virginia and Wyoming.

The Times reported in October that the university had used more than $2 million from student fees to cover an athletic department funding gap the year before. That money, Vazquez said, did not go to the roughly 285 athletic scholarships UCLA hands out each year.

Emily Resnick, the outgoing president of UCLA's Undergraduate Students Assn., said she sees no problem with Combs' scholarship if needy students are unaffected.

"If his athletic abilities deserve it, then more power to him," the graduating senior said.
Joelle Gamble, who will graduate from UCLA in a couple of weeks, said the university would likely benefit from the buzz generated by having a celebrity's son on the team.

"UCLA is a business — to them, giving him a scholarship is some sort of investment," she said. "It's how college athletics works. This is how we're going to get money."

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-- Kate Mather

Photo: Justin Combs and Sean "Diddy" Combs attend the 2011 Jackie Robinson Foundation Awards Gala in March 2011. Credit: Stephen Lovekin / Jackie Robinson Foundation/Getty Images

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