Why Shane Beamer is ‘absolutely against’ the possibility of a world without walk-ons

It seems no one truly understands the recent House v. NCAA settlement. Not fully.

We grasp that conferences and the NCAA will pay current and former (post-2016) athletes about $2.8 billion over the next 10 years.

We know there is now a framework for schools to be able to directly pay their student-athletes, a revenue-sharing model that folks warned for years would happen.

Everything beyond that is unclear, if not undecided.

There’s even been talk about a salary cap, perhaps around $20 million per school, but that likely won’t stop colleges from spending more if they please.

Also rumored are roster limits, which many fear would mark the end of the walk-on. Because, well, if schools are sharing revenue with student-athletes, wouldn’t they have to share revenue with every student-athlete?

Yahoo reporter Ross Dellinger pointed out that the House v. NCAA settlement could get rid of scholarship limits and instead hold schools to a maximum number of roster spots per team. For example, every college baseball team in the country currently gets 11.7 scholarships to work with across the entire 40-man roster. In a new era, perhaps every player would be on scholarship but there are five or 10 fewer roster spots.

There are also Title IX laws that would have to be considered.

“I know other conferences have discussed it. Coaches have then texted our coaches, they get fired up, and we said just wait,” Sankey said Monday. “We’re gonna have a conversation. That’s where it is. That’s a concept.”

The prospect of roster limits — and not the chances of a nine-game conference schedule — is the hot-button topic of this week’s SEC Spring Meetings in Miramar Beach, Florida, where the league’s coaches and athletic directors have gathered.

Asked Tuesday about the possibility of a world without the walk-on, South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer’s voice rose an octave.

“I’m absolutely against that,” said Beamer, who walked on and played for his father Frank’s team at Virginia Tech. “I understand the financial aspect of it, but I think that’s completely asinine.”

Currently, college football teams are afforded 85 scholarships but supplement their roster with a few dozen walk-ons. Beamer said South Carolina currently has 120 players, meaning there are 35 walk-ons in the program.

Without them, Beamer said, he could not run a football team the way he’d want.

Even this past season, with plenty of walk-ons on the roster, the Gamecocks were struggling to practice because so many injuries to offensive linemen had left them without enough bodies for a first- and second-team offense to compete simultaneously.

Imagine that scenario with 35 fewer players.

“To say you’re only going to have 85 players and you’re eliminating every walk-on from the program, I think, is ridiculous,” Beamer said. “That, to me, is not a good thing for a lot of reasons — for our program but for their livelihoods, their futures.”

If Beamer didn’t walk on at Virginia Tech, perhaps he still would have gotten into coaching through his father. But, Beamer said, look to the Upstate for another example.

“Dabo Swinney was a walk-on,” Beamer said. “If you eliminate the (walk-on), Dabo Swinney probably never plays football at the University of Alabama and probably isn’t the head football coach at Clemson. There are so many stories like that.

“To sit there and say you’re going to eliminate guys who are literally paying their own way to go to college and play football. … From a football standpoint, I know I speak for every football coach in our league (when I say) we’re adamantly against that.”

Perhaps Beamer speaks for every football coach period. Just a few weeks ago when he was asked about the House settlement possibly leading to the elimination of walk-ons, Swinney echoed Beamer’s sentiment and called it “the worst thing I’ve ever heard.”