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What's a Fair `Wage' for College Athletes?

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THE question of pay for college athletes comes up with some regularity these days. One of the chief arguments against it is that a four-year, full-ride scholarship is no small payment in itself, and a college education enhances one's lifetime earning value. Nonetheless, few students are greater generators of revenue than athletes, primarily those in football and basketball, and some form of additional compensation might be appropriate.

Derrick Brooks, an All-American linebacker on the Florida State University football team, has an idea the academic community might consider palatable. In College Sports magazine, he suggests that student-athletes be paid something, perhaps $5,000, but only if they graduate. ``Or maybe the student-athlete could put that money toward furthering his education,'' he says. ``I think that would up the graduation rates 100 percent.''

Brooks, incidentally, sat out the season's first two games for letting a pro agent foot the bill for a shopping spree. Despite this indiscretion, he is not using college merely as a stepping stone to a pro sports career. He is an excellent student with a 3.2 grade-point average in communications. Jordan's early tenacity

DURING last week's ``Salute to Michael Jordan,'' the glitzy, televised extravaganza thrown at the new United Center in Chicago for the retired Bulls basketball player, one flashback fact may have startled many viewers. Namely, that Jordan was once cut from the varsity basketball team as a sophomore at the Laney High School in Wilmington, N.C. He worked on his game, eventually made the team, and wound up shattering all the school scoring records.

Ultimately, Jordan became the game's greatest one-man highlight film, inspiring two videos, now available in a set, on his life and basketball exploits. One of these -- ``Michael Jordan: Come Fly With Me'' -- is the most successful sports video in history. Troubled pool waters

CHINESE swimmers may find the atmosphere at the 1996 Olympics hostile. Already the Chinese women are under a heavy cloud of suspicion because of their East German-style domination at the recent world championships.

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