For the past few months of the college football season, the nation has obsessed over the ills of college athletics. It began with the wrist slap the NCAA bestowed upon Johnny Manziel after he allegedly signed autographs for cash and continued here at Northwestern with Kain Colter advocating for players’ rights with All Players United. It has caused a firestorm of anti-NCAA sentiment. While much of it is justified, moments that exhibit the pure elation that college sports bring can’t be ignored.
One of those moments happened right here at Northwestern. First-year men's basketball head coach Chris Collins awarded now-former-walk-on James Montgomery III with a scholarship.
Montgomery, a senior from Los Angeles, walked-on to the program as a sophomore under coach Bill Carmody. In the fall of his freshman year, Montgomery tried to walk-on, but was told that there weren’t any spots available. He spent that basketball season as a practice player for the women’s basketball team.
Eventually, Montgomery joined the men’s program during his sophomore season, playing in only 11 games. Last season, Montgomery played in 23.
When Collins announced the addition of Montgomery’s scholarship to the team, he spoke highly of his consistent energy and impeccable work ethic throughout offseason and preseason workouts and practices.
In May, InsideNU’s Chris Johnson wrote a short post about Montgomery and what to expect from him this season. Montgomery, though, didn’t particularly enjoy the piece as he tweeted:
Although InsideNU does not take credit for anything Montgomery did to earn his scholarship, the moment is a testament to his perseverance and character.
It was clear from the reaction of his teammates how much respect Montgomery commands, even with a new coaching staff.
So the next time the NCAA docks an athletic program nine scholarships (cough… Miami) for violations and pundits and fans alike are debating the merits of the college sports—many with valid points for both sides—remember James Montgomery III. Remember how his teammates mobbed him in the meeting room. Remember the loving screams of a mother and sister in excitement. And remember the hard work of James Montgomery III, a mechanical engineering major, that led him to a scholarship for his senior year of college.