COMMENTARY |While college football scandals involving the payment of players at SEC schools have made headlines, other activities of these and additional schools has largely gone unnoticed. But recent evidence uncovered has shown that these colleges have been paying their players indirectly. And the sums of money go up into the tens of thousands, with the prospect of those numbers reaching the millions after graduation.
The defending national champions, the University of Alabama, seem to be doing the same thing. Notre Dame fans can’t take solace that Alabama is alone, as this venerated school is also making such payments.
And, as investigations continue, it appears that nearly every university in the SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, and other conferences are doing it. Even the “mid-majors” that they pay are doing the same.
You see, each of these schools is granting college scholarships worth tens of thousands of dollars to their football players. Not only that, but it seems likely that in many cases, room and board, and sometimes the cost of books, can be covered by this amount, as well as travel to and from the games.
I’ve discovered that these college payments don’t just stop with graduation. Those with a college degree earn, on average, nearly a million dollars more in their lifetime than one who wields a high school diploma. The disparity is even bigger when you look at college graduate earnings against those who drop out of high school. And those with graduate degrees widen the gap even bigger with those who never went to college. You are also far more likely to find a job if you have a college degree.
Oddly enough, this amount of money is either not mentioned or pooh-poohed when the subject of whether or not to pay college players comes up in the sports world. But everyone one of our NCAA Division III football players would love to get one of those college scholarships, even if it means reduced playing time. The same goes for thousands of high schoolers on the gridiron every Friday night who won’t be playing on Saturdays after their season is over.
Now some of the same folks who blast the world of college football for not paying its players also complain about the high cost of college tuition. Well, either college tuition isn’t so expensive, or college football players are getting a good deal. You can’t have it both ways.
I totally support college football players getting a stipend for some spending money during their time at the university, rather than have it all go to line the pockets of those who cash in on college football television revenue, because they’ve earned it.
But you’re totally fooling yourself if you think $5,000 for each player, or $10,000 in extra money directly to a player would eliminate college football player payment scandals. The Ohio State University or the University of Florida or some school that one day tries to break the rules in the future will try and find a way to get their player to make $20,000 a year. It’s about snaring college talent and breaking the rules to do so, not the just the money. Every college wants an edge on the others, and some are willing to break the laws of the NCAA to do so.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. Photo was taken by the author at the University of Georgia vs. Louisiana State University game in Samford Stadium, Athens, Ga.