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MrSEC.com Says Go Ahead And Give College Players Cash (And All That Goes With It)

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Georgia TechOver the weekend, a number of college football players wrote the letters “APU” on their athletic gear in protest of the NCAA.  The “All Players United” movement figures to grow each and every week until the NCAA starts paying players cash or outlaws such writing on athletic gear (and the latter will likely come much sooner than the former).

The movement also mentions such things as concussions and NCAA reform, but you can be sure the main goal is get some cash flowing in the athletes’ direction.  And with players now protesting and thousands of media members now barking that the NCAA must be toppled and players must be paid, I’ve become convinced.

Pay the players.

Sure, no one from Jay Bilas to your local paper’s columnist has come up with an idea for an incorruptible system that could replace the NCAA should it be toppled like a dictator’s statue.  No one has explained which athletes would be paid or how lawsuits from those unpaid would be defeated.  No one has explained how paying players will cut down on cheating (as if making some is better than making more).  And no one has stated exactly how much those players who would be paid, uh, would be paid.  (Steve Spurrier’s idea to pay 75 guys out of each coaches’ wallet sounds good at a Media Days presser — and it’s easy for a guy making $3 million to push for that — but that will never come to pass under any circumstance and Spurrier damn well knows it.)

Despite all that, I’ll go ahead and join the chorus of complainers: Pay the players!

But I do have one requirement.  With great cash, will come great responsibility.  Yes, I say just throw open the coffers and give the players their booty.

But…

Since there is no other semi-pro or minor league system in place for pre-NFL’ers, these paid players must still go to college to play ball.  That much is obvious.  That’s why they would be getting paid, right?.  Well, since they would be paid, they should also have to pay college tuition like everybody else out there.  Out-of-state students crossing state borders should have to pony up a little more.  Those who want to play for Vanderbilt or Duke, had better be making enough to cover the quarterly — or would it be “semesterly” — bills.

Some of you are probably already crying foul.  It’s ridiculous to make players pay for their own school.  “It wouldn’t be fair!”

So? I don’t think it’s fair that coal miners get black lung.  Which is why I didn’t become a coal miner.

If kids don’t want to play college ball, they don’t have to.  It’s not the US Army circa 1968.  No one is drafting these kids and forcing them to play college ball.  If it’s unfair, they don’t have to do it.  They can get a real job like millions of Americans who would have loved to have gotten a free college education in exchange for playing football (or another sport).  Or they could go to school on their own and prepare for a profession, having to pay off college loans for years like millions of American who would have loved to have gotten a free college education in exchange for playing football (or another sport).

But my tit-for-tat plan doesn’t just require athletes to pay for their own education.  Oh, no.  I also think that these “employees” should be treated just as professionals are treated.  Get ejected for targeting a defenseless player above the shoulders?  A $50,000 fine should be in order.  If they fail a drug test, that’s another fine.  If they write something on their uniform or wear their socks too high or too low, more fines… just as it is in the NFL and other professional leagues.

Wanna make money?  Supa-dupa.  But be ready for the responsibility that comes with that cash.

And speaking of responsibility, if college athletes are paid, they’re obviously going to have to pay taxes, too.  That means the federal income tax as well as — in some states — a state income tax.  Just how many 18-year-old freshmen do you think are ready for all that?  How many will have the cash in hand when April 15th rolls around each year?  But them’s the breaks.  I can’t dodge the US tax code and players wouldn’t be able to duck it, either.

I know, I know.  This is absurd.  Athletes should be paid and they should also be protected from the real-world money problems that go along with making that aforementioned dinero.

Well, that’s your take.  And Bilas’ take.  And 90% of sports fans’ take.

My take is that until someone puts forward in detailed a system that would successfully work as a replacement for the NCAA, that would be above corruption and bureaucracy, and that would pay players… our fairy tale notion is every bit as realistic as those presented by folks like Spurrier and your favorite talk radio host.

If the players want money, give it to them.  And then treat them as paid employees are typically treated.

Until someone shows me a better detailed plan — there’s that word again — I’m sticking with this one.

 


19 comments
the_voice
the_voice

John, welcome to the dark side. At some point we have to allow the greedy, pseudo college students a way to avoid the college route and establish a minor league for them, with all the parameters of responsibility you mentioned. Some will say it can't be done, but we have minor league baseball and it works just fine. Foster and Manziel would have loved spending 3 or 4 years in some high school stadium in Bangor, ME or Oshkosh, WI making $25k/year less taxes and expenses and riding a bus to games.

NatanElias
NatanElias

Disagree, because this will solve nothing.  A player who gets $100k from his U will still take $5k more on the side.  So all you're doing is changing the starting point from $0 cash to something higher.  The value of an all expenses paid education (if it's taken advantage of) along with room and board and tutoring and lots of other perks is in the hundreds of thousands even if it's not in the athlete's hands, a good  thing.  Imagine what other trouble a lot of them would get in if their pockets were flush with money -- more drunkenness, drugs, gambling, race cars....   What would you do when it was time to pay the tuition but the star blew all his pay already?   We already see that a great number of these kids do not have the maturity to handle what they have.  Giving  them cash will only enable them to be more self-destructive and irresponsible.  Four years later they should have more discernment and self-discipline (emphasis on 'should', and most do.)

Then there's poor Adrian Foster -- had to choose between taking the cash and eating or paying the rent.   Of course had he stayed in the athletic dorm and eaten with the rest, it wouldn't be a problem, would it?  

Frozenreb
Frozenreb

The answer is simple. Just allow players to have endorsement contracts. The superstars will get paid and everyone else will benefit from a free education. Why make this complicated when it doesnt have to be?

DanHogan
DanHogan

I'd still prefer a stipend based payment based on the values that come along with academic scholarships, but your view is the closest thing to reasonable that any of the full-payment views have ever come.

vol66
vol66

Oh, the outrage. A group of players who collectively bring in billions of dollars for universities, coaches, NCAA executives, Bowl representatives, ESPN, CBS, etc...would like to organize.

If one is for not paying the players, is there nothing about the current system that needs to be changed? The answer can't be "no system is perfect."

If a school is not going to give a student a four year scholarship, most are one year renewables, then why should that student hand over his/her likeness in perpetuity? Why should the NCAA get to sell those rights?

Go after Johnny Football, sure...while the NCAA is selling his jersey, um,,,,was...until Bilas shamed Emmert into taking down the online store.

If these united players can achieve full cost of tuition, which the SEC is in favor of, would that be a bad thing?

If these united players could get some new legislation in regards to transferring if the coach that recruits them bails after one season, would that be bad?

If these united players could help with their voices regarding agents/runners, would anyone listen...should they have a voice? Slive announced his displeasure with the NCAA's inaction on this topic.

What you condone, you promote.

The message I've been hearing much of lately is...Everyone is taking money, we know it and as long as nobody "rats", it's fine. As long as no one gets caught, it's fine. That's the current system, bury your head in the sand and hope your school doesn't get caught.

HoustonVol
HoustonVol

I am in favor of the sponsorship route run through the Athletic Department. Not a flat pay for play because it does not solve the imbalance of media worth to scholarship ratio that is being called into question. Just the past week TAMU announced that the University's donations last year was over $700 million dollars, $300 million larger than Texas. You think the TV deals are huge, check out donations and academic funding. They credit the huge jump due to the move to the SEC and JM and his heisman win. Oh Oh - TAMU just put a value on Manziel of 100's of millions of dollars, and he is getting an instate scholarship and no money from endorsements, sponsorships, jersey sales, etc. His he worth more than the back up QB? Yep, and if they are all paid the same cost of scholarship stipend, the issue would not change. So set up a system where the athletes (regardless of sport/gender) can sign sponsorship deals through the ADept. If you are caught violating your sponsorship/likeness contract with the school, you are now responsible and can be sued in court.

UT98BCSChamps
UT98BCSChamps

And, how bout FU not covering 17?  Yessiree made momma some $$ this weekend!

UT98BCSChamps
UT98BCSChamps

Answer is start a semi pro league that recruits and pays only the best high school athletes, and let the others that do not perform at that level go the standard (current) method of college.  Then if they shine while at the lower level, they can be "drafted" into the semi pro league.  There, all fixed!

UT98BCSChamps
UT98BCSChamps

Good article, I have not thought of it in those terms.   I can totally see the ncaa banning writing on players sooner rather then later.  I am still paying my student loans off, good grief that sucks.  I am glad I have my education, but free would have been awesome from this boys pov.

BAMANOLE26
BAMANOLE26

I can't help but agree. While I think it's rubbish that certain players do get exploited (Tebow, Manziel) in my opinion by bringing in revenues to the school that far outweigh the cost of their scholarships, I also think that the other 60+ players get rewarded through the scholarship that equals or even surpasses their contributions on the field. I think that for all of the people hollering "Let's pay the players!!" very few realize that the vast majority of players (those outside of the starting 22) wouldn't receive squat compared to their scholarships. I would personally like to see players get paid by jersey sales and other quantifiable means but to have that money go into a trust. If you graduate, the money is yours. If you don't, the money goes into an emergency player relief fund to help out less fortunate student athletes of all sports that is doled out by an independent agency hired by the NCAA. That way players that actually need assistance could get it (regardless of sport or gender) and those that don't need it or don't graduate help their fellow athletes. That's just my idea though.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@Frozenreb 

Because it is more complicated than you think.  Let's say Ole Miss is recruiting a basketball player out of Memphis.  An Ole Miss booster offers to pay the player to be in commercials for his feed & seed company.  Memphis' top booster -- FedEx top god Fred Smith -- then offers the kid a million-a-year sponsorship deal with FedEx if he'll sign with Memphis.

You good with that?

Everyone wants the simple answer.  "Tear down the NCAA!"  But few realize that there are no easy fixes.  

Thanks for reading the site,

John

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@vol66 

I, personally, am for full-cost-of-tuition scholarships.  But even if passed -- and which athletes get them, by the way? -- those scholarships will not quiet the call for more money and they will not prevent cheating in any way, shape or form.  Some is better than none... but more is better than some.  Players will always have their hands out.  

Now, you think I'm taking a "bury my head in the sand" approach, but I would ask how you intend to catch and prosecute every jaywalker on earth, which is basically what it would take to truly police every school.

As for players transferring -- which I didn't bring up -- I would ask you what happens to a football program when 85 guys decide to leave with their coach?  With no transfer rules, your University of Tennessee football team could have disbanded after Fulmer was let go, after Kiffin left, or after Dooley was released.  As long as you realize that and think that's a good system, fine.

You also say the answer "can't be that no system is perfect."  OK.  But as I stated in the above piece, please present to me a detailed plan that would work better than the current NCAA.  We knock holes in the NCAA 24 hours a day.  Let's see if there are any holes to be knocked in other plans.  Here's guessing they would all have problems.  Which is probably why everyone goes deep on the evils of the NCAA but light on the whole "what's next" portion of the equation.

Admittedly, ignoring a leaking hole in the roof isn't a great plan.  But -- and this is what no one seems to comprehend -- pulling down the entire roof with no plan for a new and better roof is just as ridiculous.

Thanks for reading the site,

John

DanHogan
DanHogan

@BAMANOLE26  The idea of only giving it to them when they graduate is intriguing!  I have to say I think it will never happen, but still, intriguing. 

Frozenreb
Frozenreb

@John at MrSEC @Frozenreb 

Yes, I am good with that. If the NCAA is going to be torn down, why replace it with a something where we know the same people are going to be bending the rules again? 

Do you not believe that shoe companies and what schools they sponsor play roles in where the top basketball players go to school right now? Personally, I think that the number of million dollar endorsement deals for college athletes would not be very big. It is not great business to sign endorsement deals with people that are not recognizable to a large audience and Fred Smith did not get rich by making bad business decisions.

 Honestly, I am tired of college sports being about the constant scandals. It is obvious that college athletes are getting paid across the country. Don't try to tell me that an extra $200 per month from a cost-of-attendance scholarship is going to make a bit of difference with regards to high profile athletes.

 Also, schools cannot be paying salaries to players. I do not see any way that would ever work due to Title IX restraints. This would also make the athletes employees, which could open up a whole other mountain of issues. Anyone excited for trades or free agency?

So, the simplest way to fix college sports is to let players make money off of their own names and likenesses (endorsements, autograph sales, jersey sales, video games, etc.) This way, the superstars get  their take of the money that they are bringing into the school (which many are already getting now) and the backup goalie on the women's soccer team still gets a free ride to college.

KnoxvilleDawg
KnoxvilleDawg

@John at MrSEC @vol66    Are most players not getting full cost-of-tuition  benefits? I agree with your reasoning. Most players get Tuition, housing, meals, books . They also get tutoring. Most qualify for Pell Grants [ Maximum  $ 5645.00 per  year] .  That is $ 108.00 per week. How much is that package worth? Let those players that are unhappy with that deal go to a Division 3 school, which offers no scholarship . How many players could even qualify if they had to complete with entrance requirements  of regular students? If the issue is the players not having enough benefits to cover expenses, maybe their expectations are too high.  I agree with you about full-cost-of-tuition- scholarships. Read & enjoy you website every day.


vol66
vol66

@John at MrSEC @vol66 

Just to be clear, I am for a more radical change. The point of my post was to suggest that, A. There is nothing wrong with players who have no representation organizing a group. B. If the basic NCAA is to stay as is, would there be some things that could be fixed in addressing some of the obvious problems.

The major issue is the hypocrisy, real or perceived. From the Manziel thing, to the Miami fiasco and there are many other examples.

The LOI is a lopsided contract, it protects the school, but in a lot of ways, not the student.

The risk of 85 players all bolting is pretty small...but the threat that it could happen would force the school to make a buy out for a coach so obscenely high the first two years, neither the coach or the other school would be willing to pay it. Again, this goes back to being hypocritical. The student athletes look at the adults, who I would say also appear to "have their hands out" looking for even more.

Another glaring example of hypocrisy, The EA Sports lawsuit. The NCAA just shouldn't have done this, much like the on line store selling players jerseys. If you are going to be the enforcer of morality in college sports, you must not do something that creates the perception of wrong doing.

As for pulling down the entire roof, it seems to me that Slive and the other honchos are reluctant to get rid of the NCAA. However, they aren't going to wait forever. The agent/runner issue was brought up at least three years ago at the SEC meetings and the NCAA has done nothing. For every kid with his hand out, there is an adult there giving out the money. While the Kid, Mo Couch for example loses a lot for his mistake, the adult loses nothing and so they are likely to keep doing it to the next player that comes along. Sure seems like the students are being held to higher standard than the adults.

Out of time at the moment, there's more...thanks for the site, I read it everyday.

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