Football Player to Struggling Teammate: Take My Scholarship

Eastern Michigan University's Brian Dooley says he didn't want Zack Conti to struggle anymore
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2023 10:00 AM CDT

College football players have each other's backs on the field, but one athlete from Eastern Michigan University has proven in a big way that he has teammate Zack Conti's back off the field, too. CBS News reports that Conti, now a senior, has been struggling over the past few years to pay the bills by working his way through school, including by donating plasma, which typically offers $50 to $100 per session. Conti's mom has also been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and requires a transplant, with a Facebook page created to raise awareness for her plight.

At a team meeting earlier this month, head coach Chris Creighton explained how difficult it has been for Conti, and that while the NCAA permits the team to dole out 85 scholarships annually, all of them had already been distributed for the upcoming year. Creighton said his request for an 86th scholarship was denied. "Until Brian Dooley comes into my office," Creighton said, explaining that Conti's teammate had recently approached him and volunteered to give up his own scholarship to help Conti out.

"I've never heard, I've never seen anything like that ever before," Creighton told the team at the gathering. That's when Dooley stood up, walked over to Conti, and presented him with the scholarship. The two players embraced, to the cheers and applause of their teammates. Dooley tells KXAS that Conti would sometimes have to miss practices because he was working. He adds that because he only has two classes left to complete in his own graduate program, he figured Conti could use the scholarship more than him.

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"I feel like he deserves the spotlight, he's doing this for his family," Dooley says. As for giving up his scholarship, he notes, "I'd do it again in a heartbeat." Conti, for his part, says he's feeling "so honored and so thankful," per CBS. "It feels like all of my hard work is finally being rewarded," he says. "The team would usually see me coming back from work or going to work and they would know what was going on, and they were supportive. ... They got my back." (More uplifting news stories.)

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