June 01, 2011
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier knows it's hard out there for a student-athlete.
Scholarships still cover tuition, books and housing, but what about the other expenses athletes incur these days?
Spurrier is here to help. That's why on Wednesday at the SEC meetings in Destin, Fla., Spurrier proposed that coaches give scholarship players $300 per game from their own pockets. The money, Spurrier said, would be for game expenses.
"They can give to their parents for travel, lodging, meals," Spurrier told the media. "Maybe they could take their girlfriends out Saturday night and so forth."
Shockingly, six other coaches signed Spurrier's proposal: Alabama's Nick Saban, Florida's Will Muschamp, Ole Miss' Houston Nutt, Mississippi State's Dan Mullen, LSU's Les Miles and Tennessee's Derek Dooley.
"A bunch of us coaches felt so strongly about it we would be willing to pay 70 guys 300 bucks a game," Spurrier said. "That's only $21,000 a game. I doubt it will get passed, but as the coaches in the SEC we make all the money as do the universities with television [deals]. And we need to give more to our players. That was something we need to get out there."
Spurrier's plan is interesting, but he's right, it probably won't pass. It's not that it's not a novel idea, it's that the NCAA wouldn't consider it fair across the FBS' 120 schools.
If coaches were to play 70 players $300 a game that would mean each coach would shell out $252,000 per year based on a 12-game schedule. It would obviously fluctuate if a team played in a championship game, a bowl game or even played a game at Hawaii, which would allow the school to schedule a 13th regular-season game.
The figure might be OK for SEC coaches, most of whom make millions according to the contracts at CoachesHotSeat.com:
But what about other conferences that would have to follow suit should the proposal pass?
According to CoachesHotSeat.com, 32 coaches make $500,000 or less per year and five coaches make $300,000 or less per year. While none of those coaches come from any of the major conferences, it still creates a huge divide between the haves and have-not's in college football and probably furthers the argument for a separation between the big six conference and the nonautomatic qualifiers. If you're curious, Washington State's Paul Wulff is the lowest paid big six coach at $625,000. Vanderbilt's Franklin is right in front of him.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive was realistic about the chances of Spurrier's proposal taking root.
"I don't think [it would pass]," Slive said. "It was a gesture by Steve, thinking about student-athlete welfare."
If Spurrier is truly thinking about "student-athlete welfare," then how would he propose the school takes care of the other athletes in other sports? Obviously, the volleyball, soccer and track coaches wouldn't be able to afford shelling out $300 a game or a meet. Heck, even the basketball coaches might find it difficult since we're talking about 30-plus games a year. Even if coaches just paid what each football player would make through the course of a regular 12-game season -- $3,600 -- it would be difficult for each coach to front the money for every scholarship athlete.
However, it's unclear whether each school would be required to pay all of its student athletes if the coaches were volunteering the money out of their own pockets.
While Spurrier's proposal might ultimately fall on deaf ears, it's clear that there's a strong movement to help players get a piece of the action. Even NCAA president Mark Emmert acknowledged that full-cost scholarships need to be considered, but made it clear that he's not willing to pay players and blur the lines between amateur and professional status.
Spurrier acknowledged that getting players the compensation they deserve is still a work in progress.
"I just wish there was a way to give our players a little bit piece of the pie," Spurrier said. "It's so huge right now. As you know, 50 years ago there was not any kind of money and the players got full scholarships. Now they're still getting full scholarships and the money [is] in the millions.
"I don't know how to get it done. Hopefully there's a way to get our guys that play football, a little piece of the pie. The coaches make so much, we'd be willing to pay it so there's no additional expense to the university or anybody."