SEC coaches vote to give some athletes $4,000/year stipend

SEC coaches vote to give some athletes $4,000/year stipend

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he NCAA has been trying to pass legislation to give all athletes a $2,000 a year stipend since late 2011, but South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has been pushing for a more aggressive stipend plan even longer than that.

spurrierIt took him two years, but Spurrier finally got coaches of the SEC’s two biggest sports on board. Now he just needs the league’s athletic directors to get behind it, and the NCAA to take care of its part.

That last part may be easier said than done.

At the league’s annual meetings in Destin, Fla., SEC football and men’s basketball coaches voted to provide athletes in those sports a $4,000 per year stipend. The suggestion was taken to the conference’s athletic directors Wednesday, Spurrier said.

In 2011, Spurrier first introduced a plan that would’ve paid players a $300 per game stipend. That proposal didn’t get any traction, but as the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit made headlines and the idea of compensating athletes became more mainstream, Spurrier’s plan picked up steam.

Despite a series of failed attempts by the NCAA, Spurrier is optimistic that players will get a slice of the pie.

“The amount of money they bring in is enormous, and they need to share in it,” Spurrier said. “Hopefully, that will go through. The presidents and commissioners are supposed to be working on that.”

“We are encouraging all the other conferences and the conference of Notre Dame to get in line with it,” he added. “This is something we need to do.”

Convincing administrators may prove to be more difficult. Alabama A.D. Bill Battle said paying only athletes in certain sports raises obvious questions of equitability.

“I don’t see how you can pay some players on a team more than others,” he said. “I am not saying that they shouldn’t (be compensated), but what we have to recognize is that we have two, maybe three, sports in some places that make money.

“If you start to pay fair market value to those that the market is for then how do you pay them and not pay softball and rowing and swimming and diving and women’s sports? If you go on market value, we are telling some people that they aren’t worth much.”

So far, the NCAA’s quest to provide a stipend to athletes in all sports has run into a brick wall. Mark Emmert hoped to unveil a new stipend plan with a need-based component to his board of directors in April. Instead, it became the latest political setback for the embattled NCAA President.

The proposal, which would have allowed — but not required — athletes to receive up to an additional $2,000 to cover expenses above and beyond a traditional scholarship, was met with widespread rejection. In Emmert’s words last December, it was “crushed.”

“There are some people who will oppose anything he supports, and that’s unfair,” Sidney McPhee, Middle Tennessee State president and head of the working group associated with the stipend, told to The Chronicle of Higher Education last month.

The NCAA committee in charge of reviving the stipend proposal plans gather feedback this summer before presenting a new plan at the board’s October meeting. But McPhee expressed little optimism Division I members will pass such a change.

“There is still continuing opposition to doing anything,” he said. “I’m afraid that whatever we do will have a high likelihood of an override.”

Photo credit: Alex C. Hicks Jr. / Spartanburg Herald Journal

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