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Hundred-dollar handshake: Reigning in the Boosters

Boosters can be a blessing and a curse. While they're rabid in their commitment to the athletic program, their zeal can be misguided.

You've heard stories about the "hundred-dollar handshakes" that provide college athletes with much-needed -- but illegal -- spending money and other perks. In the case of star athletes, the benefits of superior prowess on the field or court can be even more extravagant.

Academic institutions must keep a tighter rein on boosters to keep them from compromising an athlete's amateur eligibility. On the other hand, there has to be a way to make things fairer for the athlete in financial need, who can't work a part-time job.

Case in Point: Maurice Clarett

Ohio State tailback. He set multiple school rushing records in leading the Buckeyes to the 2002 national championship. As a sophomore in 2003, he was suspended by the team as the school and the NCAA investigated allegations that he received improper benefits and misled investigators.. After it became clear that Ohio State would not allow him to play, Clarett and his mother threatened to sue the NFL for the chance to enter the league a year early. The NFL has a rule requiring that players be out of school at least three years.

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