Today the SEC and ESPN will announce their plans for the SEC Network. When all’s said and done it will be the biggest cash cow this side of a Chick-fil-A television ad. That’s gotten South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier back behind his pulpit, calling for college athletes to receive some form of payment for their work:
“As the commissioner and the presidents and the athletic directors all say, we are going to make a whole lot more money. My question is, ‘When are we going to start giving a little big of it to the performers?’ Football and basketball players. It won’t do any good probably, but I’m going to still keep yelling for them. They bring in an awful lot of money for all of us.”
Some thoughts on Spurrier’s push:
1. SEC commissioner Mike Slive has been pushing for athletes to receive a stipend of some sorts and spoke of that topic as recently as this week. So Spurrier’s preaching to the choir when he mentions the league’s power brokers.
2. Spurrier mentioned only football and basketball players in his comment. Apparently he believes that only those players from the two traditional revenue sports should be paid. That makes sense. But if he thinks athletes from non-revenue sports won’t have their hands out, too, he’s dreaming.
3. To “keep yelling for” athletes to get paid can’t hurt Spurrier on the recruiting trail. He can tell any young man that he’s got the kid’s back and will work to get him a stipend or a salary or — as he once suggested — a few hundred bucks out of his own pocket.
Ironically, while Spurrier is pushing for players to be paid because “they bring in an awful lot of money for all of us,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is pulling in the other direction. While discussing the Ed O’Bannon case, Delany was asked about high-profile athletes like Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel not making a penny from sales of replica Manziel jerseys.
“If Johnny Manziel was playing arena football tomorrow, what is his uniform worth?” Delany asked in response.
There’s no question that if Manziel were just as successful at Utah State, there would be nowhere near the jersey sales. Texas A&M has a long history and a huge fanbase. His point — if a tad cold — is sound.
But so is Spurrier’s. Somewhere between Spurrier and Delany the truth lies. Question is — When will NCAA leaders find common ground to compromise?