UCLA defends athletic scholarship for Sean 'Diddy' Combs' son
Justin Combs hasn't donned a Bruin jersey yet but he's already making headlines.
The 18-year-old son of hip-hop mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs has been awarded a full athletic scholarship to play football at UCLA beginning this fall, university spokesman Ricardo Vazquez confirmed. As news of the scholarship spread, some questioned if the cash-strapped school's money should be used to fund the education of the son of a man worth $475 million.
"Should P. Diddy's son return $54,000 college scholarship?" a CNN segment asked.
Vazquez said UCLA has a "robust financial aid program," and said the money used for merit-based athletic scholarships was "entirely funded by Athletic Department ticket sales, corporate partnerships, media contracts and private donations" and "do not rely on state funds."
The money used for Combs' scholarship wouldn't affect need-based scholarships awarded to other students, he said.
"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," Vazquez said.
Combs' scholarship is one of about 285 the university awards to student athletes each year, Vazquez said, and will be used to pay tuition and fees along with room and board.
"Unlike need-based scholarships, athletic scholarships are awarded to students strictly on the basis of their athletic and academic ability, and not on a student's financial need," Vazquez said in a statement.
A recent alumnus of New Rochelle Iona Prep in New York — who reportedly graduated with a 3.75 GPA — the 5-foot-9, 170-pound defensive back was also offered scholarships by Illinois, Virginia and Wyoming. Combs announced in November he would attend UCLA.
“Playing Division I football was a lifelong dream of mine, and through hard work I was able to achieve it,” Combs said in a statement announcing his decision.
"As a parent, this is one of the proudest moments of my life," Sean Combs said in a statement. "This is everything a father could want in his son, for him to excel at what he loves to do."
Many Bruin fans rallied around the incoming freshman on football message boards this week.
"Clearly Justin earned his scholarship.... He doesn’t need to give it to anyone," read a message on Bruins Nation. "The best way he can 'give back' is by being and exemplary Bruin ... and his track record indicates he will be."
— Kate Mather
Photo: Sean Combs attends the "Killing Them Softly" premiere in Cannes, France, last week. Credit: Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images