Spurrier, others propose paying football players

Steve Spurrier has a plan to pay football players – and it
wouldn’t cost schools or conferences a dime.

South Carolina’s head ball coach offered an interesting yet
far-from-feasible proposal Wednesday that would give 70 players a
$300 stipend every game.

Spurrier acknowledged that the plan probably won’t get very far
at the Southeastern Conference’s annual meetings or in the NCAA
realm, but it could open the door for future dialogue on the issue
of sharing millions in college football revenue with the guys who
really make it happen.

Spurrier, Alabama’s Nick Saban, Florida’s Will Muschamp, LSU’s
Les Miles, Mississippi’s Houston Nutt, Mississippi State’s Dan
Mullen and Tennessee’s Derek Dooley signed the proposal.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive called it a ”generous
gesture.”

”The bottom line was that they support, as coaches, the concept
of full cost of attendance,” said Slive, referring to other
proposals nationally that would require schools to pay
student-athletes cost of living expenses.

Spurrier, who lost his voice two days earlier, whispered his
proposal to fellow coaches Tuesday night and then told reporters
about his plan a day later. There weren’t a lot of details, mostly
just signatures on a piece of folded-up paper with a few
typewritten paragraphs.

But Spurrier had done the math. And knowing that football
coaches, especially those in Bowl Championship Series conferences,
are making enough to foot the bill. He said the players could use
the extra cash to give to their parents for travel, lodging and
meals, or they could take their girlfriends out for dinner.

”A bunch of us coaches felt so strongly about it that we would
be willing to pay it – 70 guys, 300 bucks a game,” Spurrier said.
”That’s only $21,000 a game. I doubt it will get passed, but as
coaches in the SEC, we make all the money – as do universities,
television – and we need to get more to our players.

”We would like to make that happen. Probably won’t, but we’d
love to do it.”

The total cost would be less than $300,000 for a coach whose
team plays 14 games. But Spurrier acknowledged that not every coach
in the country would be able to do the same, and there certainly
would be potential Title IX implications and other hurdles.

”I just wish there was a way to give our players a piece of the
pie,” Spurrier said. ”It’s so huge right now. As you know, 50
years ago there wasn’t any kind of money and the players got full
scholarships. Now, they’re still getting full scholarships and the
money is in the millions. I don’t know how to get it done.
Hopefully there’s a way to get our guys that play football a little
piece of the pie.”

Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said Spurrier’s proposal was
received well, but he declined to sign it without more details and
discussion.

”We had a dialogue with it,” Phillips said. ”We talked about
having a way to put money to allow the prospects to get some type
of expense money. Steve brought a proposal in that opened up some
dialogue. … Just us having a dialogue was important. It wasn’t a
real standard deal, so I wasn’t willing to put my name on anything
that wasn’t set in stone.”

Miles signed it without hesitation, saying it’s time to start
discussing paying players.

”We want to start a very open dialogue about how to have some
of those players who make such a great contribution on Saturdays,
who are good students, good people, that are really having hardship
even under full grant-in-aid situations, be able to get them some
money,” Miles said. ”That really is the issue.

”I think Steve Spurrier makes a good point with the proposal.
In the actual workings, I think it’s flawed. But I’m for starting
that dialogue. It opens the door.”