Advocacy group says college football players worth over $100K

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Thanks to another round of conference expansion and the start of the 2011 season, the issue of whether college football players should be paid that simmered over the summer has been shoved into the background.

Thanks to an advocacy group, that issue will likely be back out front yet again.

The National College Players Association, headed by former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma, will release a report Tuesday titled “The Price of Poverty in Big Time College Sport”, which will claim college football players at the Div. 1-A (FBS) level are worth on average $121,000 annually to their respective schools.  At schools such as Texas, that number would swell to over $500,000 a year.

The NCPA came to their conclusion by taking the pro models for revenue sharing and applying it to the collegiate level.

The report, obtained by the Associated Press ahead of its release, will apparently focus on three proposals for paying college football and basketball players:

  • Schools should be required to take revenues and put them into what’s being called an “educational lockbox”, which players could tap into after their eligibility has expired or they’ve graduated.  It’s unclear how this would help the players during their playing careers.
  • Players should be permitted to pursue endorsement deals, with some of the money earmarked for the “lockbox” as well as defraying some of the cost of attending college that a scholarship doesn’t cover.  Speaking of which…
  • Schools should make up the difference between what a schoalrship pays for and the actual cost of attendance.  The report will state that that number falls between $952 to $6,127, depending on the college.

As to the group’s points, the first one will likely never, ever happen, at least with the current group currently occupying the positions of power.  There are far too many hurdles to overcome, first and foremost Title IX compliance, to allow that to come to fruition.  There are also some concerns that, if the students are paid, they would then become university employees, which would open up the college game to unionization.  That’s the last thing the NCAA and school administrators would want.

“Dr. Emmert has been similarly clear that paying student-athletes a salary is in no way on the table,” the NCAA, which has not seen the report, said in a statement.

As to the second point, that likely won’t happen as well but it should, at least to some extent.  There is simply no good reason why players are not paid for their images being used in video games licensed by the NCAA, nor is there any reason why a player should not get a cut from the sale of jerseys with their number on it.

The third solution proposed by the group, has a very good chance of coming to fruition.  At a retreat last month that involved the discussion of myriad issues facing college football, school presidents/chancellors and conference commissioners were among the individuals who tackled the issue of “full cost of attendance“.  While no decision was made, it does appear to be headed in that direction.

Some schools in smaller conferences could, however, buck at such a proposal being enacted due to the costs involved.

The AP writes that “the Committee on Academic Performance is meeting this week to discuss the issue, and will make recommendations to the Division I Board of Directors next month.”

The report will also state that student-athletes — football and basketball players in particular — fall below the poverty line at 85 percent of schools due to the difference between scholarships and actual cost of attendance.

“The NCAA’s definition of amateurism has proven to be priceless to obscenely paid coaches, athletics administrators, and colleges but has inflicted poverty on college athletes,” the report will state.

Jim McElwain reportedly signs deal to join Michigan coaching staff

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The Jim McElwain watch in Ann Arbor is essentially done. ESPN reports the former head coach of the Florida Gators has signed a deal to join Jim Harbaugh as a new member of the Michigan coaching staff. Michigan has not formally announced the new addition yet, but McElwain told ESPN he is getting to work right away as a wide receivers coach.

I’m excited to get back into it and am looking forward to going there and learning and helping Michigan get better,” McElwain said to ESPN‘s Chris Low, who reported the latest update in the ongoing McElwain-To-Michigan story. It has been quite a year for McElwain, who has now gone from wanting to “beat the heck out of Michigan” to joining Harbaugh as an offensive assistant (Harbaugh was 2-0 against McElwain in head-to-head meetings between Michigan and Florida).

McElwain was fired by Florida last October in the midst of a disappointing season after discrepancies in McElwain’s claims about receiving death threats could not be backed up by the coach. Florida bought out McElwain’s contract at a reported $7.5 million.

Michigan had been looking to fill the role of receivers coach following the abrupt departure of Dan Enos to Alabama. Enos joined the Michigan coaching staff for a cup of coffee, getting hired in January after the Arkansas coaching staff was given an overhaul with the firing of Bret Bielema only to leave for a job with Nick Saban. McElwain, of course, is one of many coaches to jump into head coaching off the Saban coaching tree in recent years, first with Colorado State and most recently with Florida.

Previous reports have floated the idea McElwain will call plays for the Wolverines, but that remains unconfirmed.

Drag racing accident leads to arrest for Mississippi State commit

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Mississippi State commit Nathaniel Watson has gotten himself into some legal trouble before his arrival at Mississippi State. Watson, currently a high school senior, was charged with assault first degree and a handful of traffic violations following a traffic accident earlier this month. Another student from Watson’s high school was arrested for reckless endangerment and other traffic violations as well. The two are accused of drag racing.

“The accident occurred after Tyrone Davis, also a student at [Maplesville High School], lined up in front of the school with his vehicle along with Nathaniel Watson’s vehicle for a race, witnesses stated that they lined up side by side and floored it, and both vehicles were squalling their tires and fishtailing up the highway heading into town,” according to an Maplesville Police Department press release (via The Clanton Advertiser). “As the racing vehicles topped a hill, an oncoming car caused Nathaniel Watson Jr. to swerve and lose control striking a power pole, cutting it in half and knocking power out to portions of Maplesville.”

A passenger in Watson’s vehicle suffered a crushed femur, fractured pelvis, a broken right arm and internal injuries. Neither vehicle involved in the accident was insured. Watson currently awaits a date in court in a county court. There has been no update or comment from Mississippi State’s football program or head coach Joe Moorehead about Watson or his status with the football program at this time.

Watson signed with Mississippi State on February 7. The wide receiver and two-sport athlete signed with Mississippi State over Auburn.

NCAA rule prevents Penn State football players from participating in THON activity

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This weekend is the annual THON dance marathon at Penn State, which has traditionally done wonders in racking up donations to help fight pediatric cancer. This year, however, the NCAA rulebook is getting in the way of one of the events members of Penn State’s football team typically participate in.

A message from Penn State informed media members there would be no media availability for football players at the THON event at the Lasch Building due to an NCAA rule regarding time restrictions in the offseason.

“We were informed this afternoon that due to the NCAA Time Management regulations, our current student-athletes are not permitted to participate in the THON event at the Lasch Building nor conduct media interviews [today] as it is a mandatory day off for the team,” a statement from Penn State Associate Director of Athletic Communications Kris Petersen said.

Members of Penn State’s football team have typically spent part of the day interacting with kids benefitting from THON’s mission, but that has tended to overlap with offseason days already scheduled through the athletics department for the football program. Because this was a scheduled day off for the football program, players are not permitted to take part in any organized activity while representing the football team. Although, one wonders just how far the NCAA would have been willing to challenge Penn State on this infraction in the event there was a conflict.

Players on the team can still participate and appear at the main event in the Bryce Jordan Center, and a couple already have along with head coach James Franklin.

Georgia football coaches all getting well-deserved raises

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File this one under stories that should have been expected from a mile away. The football staff at Georgia, following up on an SEC title and appearance in the College Football Playoff national championship game, are getting bumps in pay. As a whole, the assistant coaching staff under head coach Kirby Smart will be paid roughly $2 million more than the staff received a year ago, according to a report from Seth Emerson of Dawg Nation.

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will see the biggest pay raise with of $900,000 to bump his total pay up to $1.5 million. That would make him one of the top assistant coaches in assistant coaching salaries. Based off last year’s USA Today salary database, Tucker would be the fifth highest-paid assistant coach, and that may even be higher now given some of the offseason changes in the assistant coaching pool. Last year, four assistant coaches received a total pay of at least $1.5 million, and three of them were in the SEC (LSU’s Dave Arranda and Matt Canada, and Texas A&M’s John Chavis; Clemson’s Brent Venables was the outlier).

Keeping in line with another growing trend when it comes to power conference programs and how much money is budgeted for the football staff, Georgia will give strength and conditioning coordinator Scott Sinclair a $150,000 raise from his previous contract of $300,000.

What has not been finalized, publicly at least, is what the future holds for the contract of Smart. After a wildly successful season, Smart is expected to receive a raise as well as Georgia continues to build something special under his leadership after just two seasons. Smart was paid a base salary of $3.75 million last year, according to USA Today’s salary database, which made him the 9th highest-paid coach in the SEC in 2017. That is fair, considering Smart was a first-time head coach and other coaches in the conference had more head coaching experience, but Smart has quickly proven himself among his peers in the conference and is likely to move up the SEC coaching salary ranking quite quickly. Nick Saban (Alabama) and now Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M) may still be on another playing field in terms of salary, but Smart should manage to move up closer to the high-end of the SEC salary spectrum.