The haves and the have nots

Paying athletes will further separate college athletics

College football is about the haves and the have nots.

There are six super conferences such as the Big Ten, that have an automatic bid into a Bowl Championship Series bid — and the opportunity to play for the mythical national championship.

They are the haves.

Then there are the other conferences, such as the Mid-American Conference, that have to run the table, knock off a big name team from a major conference, and even then don’t have a shot at the national title. Boise State has led the crusade for the past five to six years.

Now, under new legislation, the NCAA took the first step toward paying athletes. If adopted, schools could pay an athlete up to $2,000 to pay for out of pocket expenses that are not covered by scholarships alone.

And once again, the haves separate themselves from the nots.

There are several problems with this.

Sure, Michigan could probably drop the cash without much problem. One home football game raises millions of dollars that helps support other non-revenue producing sports the school sponsors.

Michigan has money left over that it could pay the additional $2,000 to the 100 or so players on the roster.

Under Title IX, Michigan would have to pay the same amount to women athletes, which doubles the amount paid. So 100 players times $2,000 equals $200,000. Double that to $400,000 and this all of a sudden is no small venture.

The amount Michigan would cost close to $1 million — though it doesn’t have to pay any or all of the athletes.

But $1 million is pretty small potatoes for Michigan.

Not so for Central Michigan.

The Chippewas play for national championships, but don’t have any of the television deals or the stadium to make millions of dollars at a home football game. Paying athletes outside of scholarships makes it tougher for the Central Michigans in college athletics.

Understandably, there are few players who this effects, having to decide between Michigan and Central Michigan. But to put money in the middle further separates those that have and those who have not.

Once upon a time college was about academics, to learn, to get a degree in a field of interest and then getting a job in that field. But money has turned football, and to a lesser extent basketball, into a multi-billion dollar business.

There are those who will say athletes are entitled to a stipend of sorts because they do generate millions for their universities.

These people are misguided.

There are 120 Division 1 schools. If, for argument sake, each school has 100 players on the roster broken down equally into five classes (fifth-year senior to red-shirt freshman) that gives us 20 players per school.

Multiply that 20 by the 120 schools which means 2,400 players are eligible for the NFL draft in April. Only 256 players are drafted.

So what happens to the roughly 2,100 people?

They have to get jobs in the real world.

How is that supposed to happen?

With the education they get with the scholarship they earned.

That is more important than paying the athlete an additional $2,000.

Until that is pounded into the heads of the major universities who see paying athletes as a chance to separate itself from other institutions, there is clearly going to be two separate groups in college athletics.

 

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