Justin Combs has yet to play in a UCLA football game, but he's already on the receiving end of some controversy.
The university responded Wednesday to criticism of its decision to grant a $54,000 full athletic scholarship to the son of rap mogul Sean (Diddy) Combs.
He’ll don a blue and gold jersey for the Pac-12 Bruins this fall.
UCLA said the merit-based athletic scholarship was separate from the school's need-based financial aid program and didn't include a dime of taxpayer funds.
"There's a misconception out there that somehow athletic scholarships would take away money from low-income students who need need-based aid," school spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said. "That's not the case. Athletic scholarships are awarded strictly on the basis of athletic and academic ability."
He said scholarships for outstanding student athletes are funded by UCLA Athletics ticket sales, corporate partnerships, media contracts and private donations.
Schools routinely use athletic scholarships as a recruiting tool, and the 5-foot-9, 175-pound defensive back from Iona Prep in New Rochelle had competing offers from other Division I schools including Illinois, Iowa and Virginia, ESPN reported.
Diddy declined to comment on the scholarship squabble.
"As a parent, today is one of the proudest moments of my life," he said late last year after his son committed to UCLA. "This is everything a father could want for his son, for him to excel at what he loves to do and is truly passionate about. "
One expert suggested Diddy make a donation to UCLA.
"I'm not opposed to merit scholarships if they're truly based on merit,” financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org, said.
“But low-income students increasingly are being priced out of higher education," he said. "Money coming from athletic ticket sales is fungible money the school could use to supplement need-based financial aid."