Mike Slive‘s agenda for change in college football is already gaining momentum outside the SEC.
The Big Ten won’t hold their media days until next week, but Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald is already echoing Slive’s desire to cover athletes’ “full cost of attendance” for college.
It’s a topic that is surely to be brought up by Big Ten commish Jim Delany, who originated the discussion of possibly paying athletes beyond what their athletic scholarship pays out back in May.
Fitzgerald added some substance to what has been a surging topic among college football’s bigwigs, suggesting that all student-athletes should be on the receiving end of more money — provided they actually need it.
“I think whatever the young people need to make ends meet is what needs to be accomplished,” Fitzgerald told ESPN Chicago. “I think it’s easy to say, ‘Hey, wow, look at all this money these schools are getting.’ How are you going to take it down all the way so there’s equality across the board for all student-athletes who are on aid?
“The cost of attendance instead of just the cost of scholarship, again, that’s easy for football, but how does that equate out for the young lady in soccer or softball or volleyball who’s getting 1 percent?”
But Fitzgerald is proposing a two-way street.
“The employment piece a lot of kids don’t want to do that. Maybe we should start there. Why don’t you go get a job? Go get a summer job and help that way. They’re going to cry, ‘Well, I don’t have time.’ I’m not buying that either. We only have eight hours that we can work with the kids in the offseason. How about a 32-hour (per week) job? There’s different ways to do it.
“What’s the easiest way to do it? Get their tax returns, get their family’s tax returns and then create a scale,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s one thing I thought about. Create a scale. If you’re whatever percent above, you don’t get anything. If you’re below it, then you get (funds) based on your need. There’s the easiest thing to do. To base it on revenue generated for a school, no way, no way. Now we’re not talking about amateur sports.”
There are so many logistical roadblocks with paying athletes in any capacity beyond their athletic scholarship that it’ll make your head spin. Trying to do it while maintaining any sense of amateurism will make it fall off.
Furthermore, delving into an individual player’s personal situation 1) doesn’t reflect their ability as a “student-athlete”, which is the basis of covering the full cost of attendance rather than a pay-for-play, and 2) doesn’t determine they’ll get the — as Fitzgerald puts it — “necessary” funds from their family, which is, in essence, what Fitzgerald is suggesting.
I’m all for forward thinking and discussion, especially on this topic, but basing further payment on any criteria outside of what a student-athlete does on the field or in the classroom is not the answer.