Issue of paying players more pops up again at SEC meetings

DESTIN, Fla. — The idea of putting some extra cash in the pockets of players was again bounced around at the Southeastern Conference spring meetings Wednesday.

South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier, who proposed last year giving football players $300 a game, tried again to spread the wealth.

“We’re trying to get extra money for living expense, academic expense, game-related expense to our players because of the tremendous amount of money — billions — they’re bringing,” Spurrier said.

The NCAA in January delayed implementing a $2,000 expense allowance, but Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said fall signees from 2011 will be receiving $2,000 stipends for sports that offer full scholarships, including basketball.

“We think they need more and deserve more,” said Spurrier. “It’s as simple as that.”

Football coaches voted 14-0 in favor of that, but there is serious doubt whether paying football players between $3,500-$4,000 for the entire year would fit into the college athletic model.

“There are several coaches that would love to do more,” McGarity said. “We’d love to do more, but $2,000 seems to be the number that the (NCAA) committee has basically run with right now.”

From a league standpoint, McGarity said, “the SEC has always been behind doing things for student-athletes. We’re all on board.”

Division-only plan

A Georgia win against Ole Miss will continue to count the same as a win against Florida.

Spurrier’s proposal to make division games only determine division champions didn’t gain much traction. It was floated after South Carolina went unbeaten in the SEC East last year but did not make it to the league title game. Georgia, meanwhile, will avoid the top teams in the West for the second straight year.

“The more that was discussed, the more everybody understood that’s probably not going to happen,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “Your crossover games are going to have to count. It’s true in just about every other sport in America. …In any given year, it may be good for you, it may not.”

There wasn’t discussion on the topic in the athletic directors’ meeting.

Said LSU’s Les Miles: “I’m certainly for the best way to pick the divisional champions. I think I was moved when everyone said, you know, ‘How can you play a game in your conference that did not count?’”

SEC equestrian?

An SEC bylaw could be revised this week that would make equestrian an SEC championship sport.

The change would make any sport that has 25 percent of SEC schools sponsoring teams able to award an SEC champion. That’s a change from 33 percent.

Georgia, Auburn, South Carolina and new member Texas A&M have equestrian teams.

McGarity gave a thumbs-up when asked Wednesday if it seemed to have momentum.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed, yeah,” McGarity said. “That, for our program and for the other three programs, is really important. I know it gets lost in the shuffle, but it’s very difficult when you have a sport and people can’t identify with that. So you’ve got 60 young women and a tremendous investment by an institution to at least have some goal to ride for.”

McGarity thinks Georgia fans will pay more attention to the sport if they know Georgia was riding against Auburn for the SEC title.

This and that

Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox wasn’t happy with a poorly attended Sunday home game on his schedule last season, but the addition of two teams could be some bring more less-than-ideal game times and dates this season for television “The two additional teams has got to make it harder,” Fox said. “There are more teams and they’ve got to come up with more windows when to play games.” …Women’s basketball is planning to stick with a 16-game schedule, SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. …Georgia is awaiting the test scores of defensive line signee John Atkins to qualify academically. Richt did not want to say whether any other signees still have work to do to qualify.

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