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Conference commissioners discuss good, bad of more pay to players (but mostly good)

Dan Beebe

Yesterday, it was reported that the Big Ten was considering “bridging the gap” between the full cost of living for student-athletes and the payout of an athletic scholarship. League officials said players could potentially receive roughly $3,000 annually in additional monetary benefits.

Whether it’s a good idea in the long run or not, conferences are talking about it. Rather than ramble on about the issue again, here are the opinions/statements of a handful of conference commissioners (courtesy ESPN.com):

SEC commissioner Mike Slive:

“I have long thought that we should revisit the current limitations on athletic scholarships by expanding to the full cost of attendance. This is a student-welfare issue that deserves full consideration at both the conference and national level. I look forward to that discussion.”

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe:

“This is a topic that BCS commissioners discussed at recent meetings and one that we agreed to review with our respective member institutions at spring conference meetings, which I intend to do at the upcoming annual Big 12 meetings.”

ACC commissioner John Swofford:

“I think it’s something that deserves our full consideration and discussion. It would be consistent with a number of other scholarships that are on our campuses across the country.”

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott:

“I fully support studying the impact of increasing the grant in aid package for student-athletes. We have not had any discussion on earmarking funds for this purpose.”

It’s not surprising that commissioners from BCS conferences are supportive of — or, at least, open to discussing — the prospect of paying players more money. Most of them currently have the funds from television rights to do it. However, one Non-BCS commish also had an interesting take:

Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky:

“Universities justify spending tens of millions of dollars on coaches’ compensation, with a seemingly insatiable appetite for more growth. At the same time, a small fraction of that amount is spent on all scholarships for all student-athletes. Unless the student-athletes in the revenue-producing sports get more of the pie, the model will eventually break down. It seems it is only a matter of time.”

It’s certainly counterintuitive that the commissioner of a Non-BCS conference would see and/or advocate the benefit in the additional payouts to players given the costs burdened with it. A primary concern of increasing the payments to players is that only a select few will be able to financially shoulder those costs.

Discussions like these tend to present more problems than they solve, but the only way to get over those hurdles is to discuss them.

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7 Responses to “Conference commissioners discuss good, bad of more pay to players (but mostly good)”
  1. polegojim says: May 20, 2011 8:46 AM

    Thank you, good start. Modest, appropriate.

    For some, it’s not an issue. For others, it can be like winning a Lamborghini, and then having to pay the taxes.

    The same management approach should be taken with the NCAA and a play off system.

    Notice who’s managing the deal here?

    Conference Commissioners, as it should be and can be.

  2. iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says: May 20, 2011 11:36 AM

    Conferences decide if there will be a playoff system or not.
    Conferences decide if not more pay for players.

    Why is there even an NCAA ?

  3. Deb says: May 20, 2011 12:39 PM

    Banowsky’s just stating a fact: If the conferences don’t address the issue of player compensation, the courts will.

    Former players already have filed a class-action suit regarding the practice of coercing teenagers to sign away lifetime merchandising rights to their names and images as college athletes. Schools continue to profit on the players years after they’ve left the game and are trying to eke out a living in non-sports pursuits.

    If they expect these kids to devote 100 percent of their time to football, they need to provide them enough funds to pay their expenses. Then maybe they won’t be as likely to sell their championship rings.

  4. polegojim says: May 20, 2011 4:46 PM

    iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says:
    Conferences decide if there will be a playoff system or not.
    Conferences decide if not more pay for players.

    Why is there even an NCAA ?
    ******************************************
    Now your catching my drift.

    1) Conferences handle their own Championships and internal stipen decisions, with the NCAA’s input. That’s about as fair as it needs to be.
    2) NCAA = General Governing Body to oversee the general playoffs to an undisputed National Champion using committees of Conference Commissioners.
    3)There is NO NEED to have another entire layer of management for the NCAA and then AGAIN for every Bowl Game.

    Keep government and management as small as possible for as long as possible.

    The NCAA/BCS has created a Top Heavy, Artificially Augmented Organization of Triple DDD proportions.

    Trim the fat and remove the implants.

  5. polegojim says: May 20, 2011 4:52 PM

    @ Deb – EXACTLY!!!

    It’s simple micro-economics.

    Current NCAA/BCS operations waste MILLIONS of dollars, and we’re only talking about providing a reasonable fraction of the waste to the players.

    Instead of enriching layer$$$$$ of fat, another HUGE chunk of the savings could be provide BACK to the schools for additional scholarships, reinvesting in other young people even outside of Athletics.

    I’m struggling to see ANY downside.

  6. Deb says: May 20, 2011 6:07 PM

    @polegojim …

    I’d like to see some of that money go to additional athletic scholarships, giving each program an opportunity to sign more kids. As it is, football literally pays for gymnastics, track, and heaven knows how many other college athletic programs, but football scholarships are limited to 85. Give more football players a chance. And give them some walking-around money.

    These players are bringing in billions for their schools but don’t receive cost-of-living stipends and are suspended from play if they sell their own memorabilia or autographs. Tyrone Prothro, a star WR from Bama who should have been a top pro pick, suffered a Theismanlike career-ending injury on a pointless fourth-down TD play when the Tide was winning in a blowout. Now he’s working for a credit union and the school is still, years later, making money merchandising films of his games. That’s absurd.

    As for the NCAA … the sport needs an investigative body to focus on major infractions: pay for play, recruiting violations, dirty sports agents. Half the time I’m not sure what these twits are doing, but who cares if a player gets free textbooks or tats? Please.

  7. edgy says: May 20, 2011 11:24 PM

    I disagree about the select few because the NCAA throws around a lot of royalty money that could be diverted to the players. With over $700 mil in royalty money going around and even if a school paid out $1 million per year, that money would cover what the Division I schools would have to pay (and that’s even for the so-called non-revenue sports).

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