The man who runs the SEC opened football Media Days on Wednesday with a laundry list of proposals to improve college sports.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier thinks at least one of them is “a terrible idea.”
SEC commissioner Mike Slive outlined a four-pronged approach to what he called an “agenda of change,” saying the NCAA’s scholarship payouts, academic requirements, recruiting rules and rules enforcement all need revamping.
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“We don’t have the luxury of acting like it’s business as usual,” Slive said. “That’s been made clear by the headlines emanating from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the Gulf to the Great Lakes.”
The list of college athletics scandals in the past year, particularly in college football, “casts a shadow over the extraordinary achievements of student-athletes,” Slive said.
The most dramatic of Slive’s proposals were plans to increase the value of an athletics scholarship, increase the minimum high school GPA required for participation as a freshman from 2.0 to 2.5 and make athletic scholarships “multiyear” agreements rather than the current one-year deals.
It’s the last point that bothered Spurrier the most.
“That’s a terrible idea,” the Gamecocks coach said.
Spurrier fears guaranteeing scholarships beyond a one-year term will remove some of the incentive for players to continue to work hard and follow team rules.
“Do you sportswriters have a two-year contract?” he asked. “If you go bad, don’t show up to work, your butt will be out on the street. Everybody has to earn your way in life. That’s the way I believe.”
Even while voicing his displeasure, Spurrier acknowledged college coaches have multiyear contracts.
“Luckily, coaches have four- and five-year contracts,” he said. “They get paid off if they get canned, I guess.”
Spurrier also is not in favor of increasing the academic requirements for initial eligibility. Under Slive’s plan, a student who does not have a 2.5 high school GPA and maintain satisfactory progress throughout high school would not be eligible to compete their freshman year.
“For some reason, we want to try to make it more and more difficult on some of these young men,” Spurrier said. “They come from difficult backgrounds, difficult academic settings and so forth. I think the requirements are pretty good the way they are right now.”
After meeting with the media, Spurrier passed Slive at the Wynfrey Hotel and stopped the commissioner to warn him that he had voiced a dissenting view.
“The First Amendment is alive and well,” Slive responded.
Another segment of Slive’s agenda is to increase financial aid to be linked to full cost of attendance, which would increase scholarship costs by around $3,000 per athlete at South Carolina.
“We recognize this proposal may be a financial hardship on some, yet at the same time economics cannot always be the reason to avoid doing what is in the best interests of our student-athletes,” Slive said.
Spurrier and Slive are in agreement on that.
“The enormous amount of money that comes in from college football, our players need to share in it a little bit, but not a lot,” Spurrier said. “I’m not trying to pay ‘em to play. If we paid them for their performance, we’d have guys making a million dollars a year.”