Not this again.
Not Steve Spurrier and his fellow fat-cat coaches in the Southeastern Conference whining about how their poor, pitiful players need to be given a stipend just for playing college football.
“We as coaches believe they’re entitled to a little more than room, books, board and tuition,” Spurrier said. “We think they need more and deserve more. It’s as simple as that.”
I’m sure Spurrier, in his mind, believes he is being benevolent and philanthropic, but in reality he and the SEC would simply be providing another entitlement for athletes who have been given special treatment since Pop Warner. Spurrier’s proposal would provide stipends only for those who play the revenue sports of football and men’s basketball players – the two groups of athletes who already prance around campus as if they are better than everyone else. So why not give them extra money just to solidify that sentiment in their minds, right?
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As if the third-team right tackle who never plays and whose only contribution to the university is eating up $5,000 worth of groceries per semester deserves a stipend more than the Olympic gold medalist freestyler on the women’s swimming team. Come on, Spurrier, you know better.
Obviously, the SEC’s multi-millionaire coaches make so much money, they value a full-ride college education as if were a Groupon for 30 percent off a Swedish body rub at Massage Envy. Believe me, as someone who has one daughter in college and will have another one there in a few years, college football players are already paid handsomely.
When you count room, board, books and other miscellaneous expenses, the price for an in-state student to attend the University of Florida is about $22,000 per year. You multiply that by five – which is the number of years most college football players stay in school – and that’s $110,000. For an out-of-state student, it’s double that. So, essentially, many college football players are getting a quarter-of-a-million-dollar education for absolutely free.
And what the SEC coaches always fail to mention is that there is already a way for football players to have a little extra cash in their pocket. An athlete – or any other college student who comes from a low-income home – already gets up to $5,500 a year in federal Pell Grant money. That money, by the way, does not have to be repaid.
“You know what school would cost here for a non-state guy? Over $200,000 for room, board and everything else,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops recently told the Sporting News. “That’s a lot of money. Ask the kids who have to pay it back over 10-15 years with student loans. You get room and board, and we'll give you the best nutritionist, the best strength coach to develop you, the best tutors to help you academically and coaches to teach you and help you develop. How much do you think it would cost to hire a personal trainer and tutor for 4-5 years?
“I’ve always said college is more about proving you can make it on your own,” Stoops added. “Proving you can go through the process and come out on top and be ready for the world. The typical student here leaves our university and has a boatload of student loans to pay back. Our players leave not owing a dime to anyone.”
With rapidly escalating tuition costs and admission standards going through the roof, the competition has become cutthroat among the best and the brightest to even get into a good state school. Even if football players were able to pay their own way to school, they would not be able to get in. The fact is, most college football players wouldn’t even come close to getting admitted into a university based upon their grades and test scores.
In essence, they are getting an education they couldn’t otherwise afford and being admitted into a college they couldn’t otherwise attend. But because they can sack the quarterback, they get a full ride, they get room and board, they get to eat filet mignon at the athletic dining hall and they get 24-7 access to tutors and counselors to help them graduate.
Spurrier claims that these players bring in “billions.” That, too, is a misconception. It’s the universities that bring in the billions. Fans come to the games to root for their school; not for the players. At Alabama, 100,000 fans will show up to cheer star quarterback A.J. McCarron. Guess what? Before McCarron arrived, 100,000 fans showed up to cheer quarterback Greg McElroy. And after McCarron leaves, 100,000 fans will show to cheer quarterback who takes his place.
If I’ve written this once, I’ve written it 100 times:
If you don’t think a college education is enough compensation for playing football, I suggest you try paying for one with today’s tuition rates, competing for one in today’s ultra-competitive academic pool and getting a job without one in today’s dreary economy.