Needless to say, The Scrapbook was horrified last week to learn that Sean (Diddy) Combs had been arrested in Los Angeles and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, making terrorist threats, and battery. All of this took place on the UCLA campus, where Combs’s son Justin is a member of the football team and Diddy is in the habit of watching practice sessions. On this particular afternoon, he seems to have been angered by an assistant coach’s criticism of his son’s performance. He later confronted and threatened the coach, swinging a kettlebell—a heavy iron object used in weight training—at people trying to restrain him.
All of this, presumably, will be sorted out in the judicial system, and The Scrapbook has no doubt that the much-admired Diddy—a stalwart supporter of the Democratic party who once stood trial in connection with a New York nightclub shooting and who witnessed the 1997 murder of rapper Notorious B.I.G.—will ultimately be vindicated. “The various accounts of the event . . . are wholly inaccurate,” a Diddy spokesman said. “Once the true facts are revealed, the case will be dismissed.”
Yet anxious as The Scrapbook may be to learn the “true facts,” it is not the incident that interests us so much as the circumstances of Justin Combs’s matriculation at UCLA. For it turns out that young Combs is not just a member of the Bruins squad—albeit one who reportedly sees little playing time—but is the recipient of a full athletic scholarship to play football there. The former coach who recruited him, Rick Neuheisel, has acknowledged that if Justin Combs’s father were someone other than Diddy, he might not have recruited him: “When you’re weighing the assets of what a youngster can do for your program,” he says, “there’s no question [being Diddy’s son] had something to do with it for me.”
Of course, in practical terms, what this means is that a spot on the UCLA roster was denied to some deserving but unfamous high school athlete so that the son of Sean (Diddy) Combs could warm the UCLA bench. According to Forbes last year, Diddy is worth an estimated $700 million. Alas, there is no evidence that Diddy, given his extraordinary wealth, has made anything but an ordinary taxpayer’s contribution to California’s hard-pressed higher-education system. And Justin, for his part, once explained on Twitter that “regardless of what the circumstances are, I put that work in!!!! PERIOD.”
The Scrapbook understands that it’s prudent for institutions of higher learning to regard the admission of certain applicants as a likely investment; and Coach Neuheisel undoubtedly had visions of a Combs Gymnasium. But was it necessary to offer this particular scholar-athlete a free ride? As far as The Scrapbook is concerned, simply admitting the son of Sean (Diddy) Combs was probably sufficient for UCLA’s purposes. But now, with the potentially lethal swing of a kettlebell, and those felony charges, UCLA has lost considerably more than it gained.