ND, 'Bama Coaches, SEC Comish Support Stipends for College Athletes

ND, 'Bama Coaches, SEC Comish Support Stipends for College Athletes
Saban, Kelly support stipends:

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, Alabama head coach Nick Saban, and SEC Commissioner Mike Slive all believe the NCAA should award athletes, particularly football players, stipends. 

Saban said he believes “the leadership in the NCAA finally sort of acknowledges that, so that’s probably a big step in that direction.”

“A lot of the young people that we have, that play college football, the demographics that they come from, they don’t have a lot and I think we should try to create a situation where their quality of life, while they’re getting an education, might be a little better,” Saban said. “I feel that the athletes should share in some of this to some degree. I don’t really have an opinion on how that should be done. There’s a lot of other people who probably have a lot more experience in figuring that one out, but I do think we should try to enhance the quality of life for all student-athletes.

Kelly agreed. 

“I still think the overriding factor here is that these young men put in so much time with being a student and then their responsibilities playing the sport, that they don’t have an opportunity to make any money at all,” Kelly said Sunday. “I want them to be college kids, and a stipend will continue to allow them to be college kids.”

Kelly’s comments square with what Alabama football players Carson Tinker and Vinnie Sunseri have experienced. 

Sunseri said:

“A lot of people would say we don’t deserve it because we already get enough as college kids that just happen to play a sport. A lot of people don’t realize all the work that goes into all the stuff that we have to do throughout the day. 

I have no time during the day. I wake up at 6 a.m., lift, go to class, right after class you come back up to the football complex to watch film and get ready for practice. By the time you get out, you’ve got to go to study hall. By the time you get out of study hall, it’s basically bed time. It is really like a full-time job.”

Tinker said: 

“I’m very thankful for my scholarship. All of us have bills. All of us have expenses, just like every other student. I don’t live with football players. I live with two of my good friends. While I’m at practice every day, they have a job. They’re able to pay their bills, buy food, stuff like that.”

The athletes bring an enormous amount of revenue to the colleges, which is why they are often referred to as athlete-students instead of the NCAA-designated “student-athletes.” 

According to ESPN, “the NCAA’s current men’s basketball tournament agreement with CBS and Turner is worth an average of more than $770 million per year,” the current Bowl Championship Series television deal is worth $180 million per year, and “the new college football playoff, which starts in the 2014 season, will be worth about $470 million annually to the conferences.”

“It doesn’t strike me as drastic by definition,” Slive, the SEC commissioner, said. “There is a fixed definition for a scholarship. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be reviewed.”

As ESPN noted, In October 2011, “the NCAA’s Division I board of directors approved a rule change that would give colleges the option of providing athletes with a $2,000 stipend for expenses not covered by scholarships,” but “many schools objected to the policy,” forcing the board to delay its implementation.

Colleges were primarily “worried about how the stipends would affect Title IX compliance and whether they’d be able to afford them.”

There are other complications. The NCAA would like the stipends to be need-based, but that may make students ineligible for Pell Grants. 

But with more influential figures in the college sports world coming on board with the idea that athletes should receive stipends, the NCAA is likely to accelerate its efforts to find the best way award stipends to athletes.