- Tania Ganguli, ESPN Houston Texans reporter
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HOUSTON -- Houston Texans running back Arian Foster says he isn't scared of the NCAA, and hopes his revelations about being paid while playing in college at Tennessee will change rules about amateurism in college athletics.
"I just feel strong about the injustice that the NCAA has been doing for years," Foster said Friday. "That's why I said what I said. I'm not trying to throw anybody under the bus. ... I feel like I shouldn't have to run from the NCAA anymore. They're like these big bullies. I'm not scared of them."
In an interview for a documentary called "Schooled: The Price of College Sports," Foster said he received extra payments so he could afford rent and food while playing at Tennessee. An excerpt of the documentary was obtained by and posted on SI.com.
"I don't know if this will throw us into an NCAA investigation -- my senior year (2008), I was getting money on the side," Foster said in the video. "I really didn't have any money. I had to either pay the rent or buy some food. I remember the feeling of like, 'Man, be careful.' But there's nothing wrong with it. And you're not going to convince me that there is something wrong with it.
Foster went on to describe a situation in which he had no food or money and called a coach.
"Either you give us some food or I'm gonna go do something stupid," Foster recalled telling him.
The coach brought Foster and three others 50 tacos, Foster said in the documentary while chuckling at the thought that that the action constituted an NCAA violation.
Foster played at Tennessee from 2005-08 under Hall of Fame coach Phillip Fulmer. Foster said Friday he never took money from coaches, but there were always people around the program willing to help him financially.
Andrew Muscato, a documentary producer, says Foster didn't specify how much he received.
"We can't speak to something that allegedly happened a long time ago," Dave Hart, Tennessee vice chancellor and athletic director, said in a statement. "What we can say is that the values and priorities of our athletics department and football program are aligned, and the constant education of our student-athletes regarding the rules and the consequences of their choices is of the highest priority."
Foster said Friday he considered the repercussions of his actions and how they might impact Tennessee, which is on NCAA probation through Aug. 23, 2015. He decided the rewards were greater than the risks.
"Look at the attention it's getting," Foster said. "They really have us hoodwinked into thinking taking money is wrong as a college athlete. It's wrong for us, but it's not wrong for them. I guarantee every NCAA official has a (BMW) or Benz or something. That's not wrong, but it's wrong for me to get $20 to get something to eat? Dez Bryant couldn't get taken out to dinner by Deion Sanders, his mentor, he sat out a whole season because of that? That's not wrong? But if you can drive around in a Benz, that's OK? It's not right."
The NCAA suspended Bryant, the former Oklahoma State star, in September 2009 for the rest of that season for lying about having lunch with Sanders.
Asked if his financial situation got more difficult after he stopped living in dorms and eating from the dining hall, Foster said it was worse when he lived on campus.
"I think my check was like $87 a month in dorm rooms," Foster said. "You had meals Monday through Friday, Saturday and Sunday you had to fend for yourself. I guess that's what the $87 was for. At the end of the month you don't have any money, your family can't send you any money, a lot of those guys -- 80 percent of the team is made up of kids from the inner city."
Foster disagreed that a "free education" was a just reward, saying the education wasn't free because college athletes put in just as much work as professional athletes.
"Except I can go make money off of my name," Foster said. "I can go get a side job if I really wanted to. The NCAA takes away your constitutional rights as an American of not being able to go get a job."
He called for an end to what he considers the guise of amateurism in college sports.
Said Foster: "It's just amazing to me that adults let this go on."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Houston Texans running back Arian Foster said he received extra benefits so he could afford rent and food while playing at Tennessee in a documentary previewed on SI.com.