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Thursday, May 31, 2012
Spurrier brings up new stipend plan

By Edward Aschoff

DESTIN, Fla. -- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has a new plan for paying college athletes.

During last year's SEC spring meetings, Spurrier floated a proposal to pay players $300 a game for expenses. Now, he's taking it a couple thousand steps further and wants to pay players approximately $3,500 to $4,000 a year for "living expenses, academic expenses and game-related expenses."

Steve Spurrier
Steve Spurrier's plan would see athletes in revenue sports getting as much as $4,000 a year.
Sure, the NCAA is mulling over the idea of paying college athletes a $2,000 stipend, but Spurrier's idea goes well beyond that -- and a little off the deep end. His plan is to pay athletes in revenue-producing sports. That means football and some men's basketball.

LSU coach Les Miles said one reason Spurrier brought up the proposal was because he didn't think the NCAA would pass the $2,000 stipend proposal, so this is a way for revenue-producing sports to share some of the wealth with its athletes. The "billions," as Spurrier puts it.

The problem is that if schools are going to pay the starting quarterback, they have to pay the men's and women's swimmers, too. Paying athletes this kind of stipend has to be on a national level and it has to be every scholarship athlete.

Besides major hurdles this proposal would have to overcome, particularly the Title IX implications, there's just no way all schools can afford to pay athletes like this. The revenue for some schools isn't the same for others, so the thought of paying athletes from the little they make has to be a scary thought for those on the lower end. It widens the gap even more in recruiting and creates an even larger competitive advantage for bigger, wealthier schools.

Miles also said Spurrier talked about not paying some athletes as much as others. Does that mean the starting quarterback makes more than the backup right guard? Maybe. Now there's an opportunity for an arms race with schools when it comes to recruiting. Surely, recruits won't play the ultimate free agents by discussing money while on official visits ...

While Spurrier said all of the SEC coaches were in favor of paying their student athletes, it might have been that coaches were more in favor of the philosophy of it, as Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said he was.

"It's one of those things as coaches that we're constantly fighting for kids and doing everything we can to help them," Franklin said. "And I really appreciate that. I'm the same way, but on the same hand, I also know it's more complex than we maybe think it is and there's a lot of things that go into it. You have to be aware of that."

Basically, it's a nice gesture, but it's likely to die before it's really considered outside of talks inside the Hilton Sandestin.

But don't think this idea won't turn out to be a positive for coaches publicly discussing it. Current players and recruits will take kindly to it. For current athletes, it says coaches are looking out for their best interests. For recruits, it says these coaches will look for their best interests when they get on campus.

Just saying all this will paint coaches in a better light with players.