stipends

College players finally getting the attention they deserve

Thu, 06/02/2011 - 8:13am
Cliff Pfenning
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With the millions of dollars flowing through the college football world, the NFL struggling to figure out how to dole out $9 billion, and the problems of both Ohio State and Southern Cal with players getting a taste of financial success while they're still in school, Steve Spurrier spoke up with the idea of paying football players.

It would be a stipend, but would be a form of payment for ... making him rich. Wednesday, he offered to pay the stipend out of his own pocket, which caused at least one media outlet to multiply $300 per game for each player into the sum of $300K for a season, which would lower Spurrier's pay from $2.8 million to $2.5 million.

At least Spurrier is addressing an issue that needs addressing - how coaches and college administrators make money off players who get paid through scholarships, which is a form of payment, but, especially in football and men's basketball, it's only a fraction of what they would should earn as part of a system that essentially turns them into professional entertainers who could be viewed as making something like minimum wage.

The University of Oregon can pack Autzen Stadium with fans and make millions for its athletic department and players will happily play for the value of an education, which they have to earn. But, where other students might have a job and make money they can spend on items such as extra entertainment or travel, or whatever, the football players are football players. They can't have jobs, so some have delved into selling things they can, like rings from successful seasons, to get extra money. This is a key to the scandal that caused Ohio State coach Jim Tressel to resign this week.

Tressel made millions coaching the football team for a university whose annual gross revenue is more than $100 million, while his players were paid an equivalent of some $25,000.

I've noticed this for quite a while - the inequity between what coaches make and what players make at the college level. There's two examples that I point out to people when this comes up. They involve Kevin Love and LaGarrette Blount.

When Kevin Love graduated from Lake Oswego and headed to UCLA, he was on the fast track to the NBA after just one season as a Bruin. And why not? College is preparation for a professional position, and when you can move up, you should move up. He did. The problem is that before he played one minute as a Bruin, you could go on eBay and buy things with his signature on it. Love's name already had value to fans/collectors, and people who got his autograph and sold it made money off him. He didn't. You could easily argue that he was increasing the value of his name for later years, but he didn't make any direct money off the sale of his name.

When he got to UCLA, the school sold jerseys with his name on the back and made money off that. He didn't, other than get free access to classes.

Blount is up there with uniforms. Even when he got suspended from the Oregon team after team violations, the University still sold jerseys with his name and number on them. Blount didn't see any of that money, other than through getting to sit in on classes he may or may not have had any interest in. The NCAA keeps up its goal of making sure the school keeps its athletes focused on their school work as part of maintaining the status quo, but the trouble with all the money isn't going away anytime soon.

What if all the college football players formed a union?

MORE FRIDAY.

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