DESTIN, Fla.–South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier revealed a plan Wednesday to spread the wealth to football players.
It didn’t have much traction, but the possibility of increasing scholarships to cover the full cost of attendance does.
Spurrier on Wednesday at the Southeastern Conference spring meetings put forward a plan for league coaches to pay players $300 a game out of their own pocket for expenses they could use for travel, lodging and meals for their parents or a night out with a girlfriend.
“A bunch of us coaches felt so strongly that we would be willing to pay 70 guys 300 bucks a game,” Spurrier said. “That’s only $21,000 bucks a game. I doubt it will get passed, but the coaches in the SEC, we make all the money as do the universities with television. We need to give more to our players.”
Spurrier’s proposal was viewed as more of a symbolic gesture that players should receive more financial help than they are currently getting.
“That’s part of a bigger conversation,” Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley.
That conversation will happen on the national level dealing with making a scholarship cover the true cost of attendance to include tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies and miscellaneous living expenses.
“I think that will probably gain some momentum,” Foley said. “I think we can do more for our student-athletes, but it can’t just be for football and men’s basketball in my opinion either, which makes it a challenge for a lot of different institutions. I get that.’
Spurrier said six other coaches voted for the $300 proposal: Florida’s Will Muschamp, Tennessee’s Derek Dooley, Alabama’s Nick Saban, LSU’s Les Miles and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen.
The SEC is flush with money from lucrative TV contracts. Half of its football head coaches last year made at least $2.5 million annually.
Commissioner Mike Slive called Spurrier’s proposal a “nice gesture.”
NCAA president Mark Emmert, who was in attendance Wednesday, told the Macon Telegraph that he was “very supportive of exploring giving athletes more money to support themselves,” but not Spurrier’s proposal.
“I think paying players by game doesn’t make any sense to me at all,” Emmert said. “Are you going to pay them for every game they go to, are you going to pay them for women’s volleyball, and why $300, why not $600. If you’re just paying them for a game why not $3,000?
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is a proponent of scholarships that cover the full-cost of attendance. Slive has long supported it and said SEC coaches do, too.
“You look at the amount of time these young guys put in year-round,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. “They’re not your regular college student that can go out and get jobs or do extra things in the summer to put spending money in their pocket. …You’re giving them an opportunity to be a regular 19-year old kid like everyone else in college.”
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva is skeptical.
“I don’t think that’s going to solve the problems of college football or basketball,” Alleva said. “You’re still going to have street agents, you’re going to have agents. You’re still going to have cheaters cheating. I don’t think giving a kid a few hundred bucks a month is going to make any difference. The really poor kids can get access to money. They’ve got $6,200 worth of Pell Grants ( a year) they can get. They can still get jobs.”
The average full cost of attendance for an incoming first-year undergraduate to the University of Georgia, according to the school’s office of financial aid website, is $20,820 for a state resident and $39,030 for a non-state resident.
The average scholarship shortfall in the NCAA grant-in-aid formula is $2,951 a year, or $14,755 over five years, according to the Birmingham News, which cited a 2009 study by Ithaca College and the National College Players Association.
Georgia coach Mark Richt said coaches would like more financial help for their players.
“We do believe that student-athletes ought to get more,” Richt said. “We’d just like to see them have more money in their pocket. We’re not saying pay them.”
Spurrier said the football coaches voted 12-0 to keep the signing classes at 28 instead of the proposed 25 to address oversigning.
“All the coaches are in favor of 28,” Spurrier said. “The presidents I don’t think are, but that’s OK.”
Richt said roster management issues were what the head coaches spent the most time talking about in their meetings.
“In the end, we agreed almost unanimously in all the issues that had to do with roster management,” Richt said. “When you start discussing these things being lived out, it makes more sense to you. You understand it better and you’re able to make better decisions or at least a thought process that might be presented that might have a chance to fly.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban left the meeting with coaches and athletic directors before the other coaches. He walked fast and reporters followed him to an elevator.
“What’s the problem with 28?” Saban said. “Y’all are creating a bad problem for everybody because you’re going to mess up the kids getting opportunities by doing what you’re doing.”
The SEC men’s basketball coaches voted to reseed the conference tournament one through 12 starting this coming season with the top four teams getting first-round byes.
Slive expects that will be adopted later this week when athletic directors vote.
The two-division format would also be scrapped and the conference standings would be listed one through 12.
The conference’s divisional schedule would remain in place for this season because it’s already set.
“Really the issue comes down to if you look back at last year, Tennessee got into the (NCAA) tournament with an 8-8 record and Alabama was left out at 12-4,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “Had they been listed in one set of standings even though they didn’t play an even schedule, would Alabama have been left out?”
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