You are correct. The scholarship is income if the athlete is an employee, and not just a paying customer, a student. A scholarship is like a sale price on an item if a student. Now if the athlete never sets foot in a classroom, ever, then the athlete will be taxed only on wages. But if he attends classes, the value of the education should be taxable. But we all know is that federal and local politicians, also known as hacks, will make sure everyone is taking care of. Because the universities is where many hacks go to feed at the trough upon retirement from politics. Thus they will make sure everybody is happy.