Question(s) regarding college athletes and sports agency.

OK, so I’m an 18 year-old programming whiz. I put some of my apps on the web, whereupon I’m contacted by IBM. IBM says “we’ll pay your college expenses and $25k/year if you come work for us for 5 years after you get your degree.”

But, actually, I joined the army. They’re sending me to med school. I’m receiving pay, I’m having my schooling paid for. For some reason, I can’t go to Fort Sam Houston (they’re overbooked or something), so they’re paying me to go to Duke.

However, I couldn’t stand med school so once I got out of the army, I joined a company that paid my way through a MBA program. My MBA program is focused on real corporate situations that the students are currently in, so a good chunk of what I’m doing for the MBA is based on the line of work that I’m already engaged in. So my company is paying me to go to school to benefit my company, and the school is allowing my company to pay for me to go to school to benefit my company, while still a student.

My sister, on the other hand, started working at the local Sears while she was at State U (biz school, management). In her junior year she was taken aside by the store manager and offered a position as manager of the shoe department. The manager told my sister that she could be reclassified as an intern, getting tuition assistance in addition to her pay/benefit package. Since she likes working there, it’s a no-brainer - she takes them up on their offer.

Why is it OK for the army to pay for my schooling, but not Drew Rosenhaus? Why can I be an intern for Sears, but I can’t be an intern for the New York Giants? How is it allowable, even encouraged, for my business pay for my schooling (undergrad/grad/doctorate), but if my business is professional athletics, then it’s not allowed?

And I don’t buy arguments based on value-earned for football scholarships - if I can get Sears (or the NY Giants) to pay for my schooling, I don’t need a scholarship, so, imho, that argument is a non-starter.

(For that reason, as an aside, is there any reason Sears can’t decide to pay me a $40k/year stipend to play football for Alma Mater U? (other than the obvious “Football isn’t what Sears does”, of course.))

This distinction between professional and amateur does not seem to be a standard any students are held to, except for athletes.

How is this legal? What am I missing here? Fight my ignorance! (Or, better, become swayed by the general common sense of my analogies above and join me in the good fight. :wink: )