College athletes are being forced to take illicit payments from boosters and alumni because the NCAA will not face reality and let colleges pay them aboveboard, Wilt Chamberlain said yesterday.
Chamberlain, a basketball star at Kansas from 1955 to 1958 before a career in the NBA, said boosters gave him cash when he was in college. "I had two or three godfathers. That way it wasn't sure where it was coming from," he said.
At first, he declined to be specific about the amount he received because he said "it would make it look like I wasn't worth very much," but then he said it was about $4,000. "Everyone was assigned at least one godfather when I was at Kansas," he said.
Dick Harp, who was Chamberlain's coach, said the NCAA investigated the program during the late 1950s and levied no sanctions.
"I can honestly say I had no knowledge of the godfathers business . . . In terms of what Wilt says about himself, he has a reason for saying it and I would have to leave that with him."
Chamberlain said the problem is that athletes are forced to take money improperly -- "and illegally, as far as the IRS is concerned. It's time to revamp the codes and be more honest," said Chamberlain. "These players need money to live and go to school and learn. And they shouldn't be forced to take money under the table and make them do illegal things at such an early age."
Chamberlain suggested a stipend of $300 to $400 a month. "And it should be standardized and all aboveboard," he said.