This week at the annual SEC athletics meetings in Florida, South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier offered up a proposal that has been floated for years. Paying players for services rendered. To be precise, a three hundred dollar per game stipend for each player, up to 70 players per team. Several SEC head coaches, including LSU's Les Miles, signed on in approval.
First, I want to start by saying that I'm not one of those people who trot out the tired argument that these kids are getting a scholarship and that paying them would destroy amatuer athletics. Those kind of arguments were buried with Knute Rockne 80 years ago. The game's changed and I understand that. How can you say that to a kid who sees his jersey hanging in the school bookstore with a one hundred dollar price tag hanging on it? What about tv contracts and bowl game pay-offs that line the schools pockets by the millions?
My problem with Spurrier's proposal is in the execution of it. Where do you draw the line, do you pay only the sports that make money for the school. Those are mostly men's sports (football, basketball, baseball), meaning you will be running up against Title IX advocates. Do you stop paying the players once the season is over, leaving them scrounging for money the rest of the year? Sports is a year-round obligation (spring practice, off-season workouts, weightifting).
Spurrier's proposal has merit and it's time has come. However, it's practical application is going to be a tricky prospect, to say the least.