Thursday, July 19, 2012

New playoff system means additional money for college football

The newly approved playoff format for college football teams will bring in huge dollar amounts, including over a half-billion dollars per year in television rights alone. The question still remains as to whether or not to compensate college football players. The current Bowl Championship Series in contract with ESPN, and the Rose Bowl’s separate contractual agreement with ABC, together pay the major college football schools around $155 million per year. This money is distributed unevenly with the bigger conferences getting more money for their members; conferences like Big Ten and the Big 12 for example.

Some college football coaches including Texas coach Mack Brown, question whether some of the extra money produced by the new playoff system should be given to the players. After the new semifinal format was approved, Brown tweeted his opinion that “with the amount of money the playoff will generate, I hope we can revisit the student-athlete stipend.” Brown believes that the players are the ones who make the event possible.
Furthermore, the fight over raising student compensation already has begun. While NCAA President Mark Emmert strongly urges against paying football players as if they were professionals, on the other hand, South Carolina’s coach Steve Spurrier has been attempting to do just that for the past two years.

Last year, legislation was approved that would have permitted schools to offer a $2,000 stipend, in addition to a players scholarship. This stipend would have gone towards what the NCAA calls the full cost-of-attendance. However, this idea was put off to the side when over 100 schools asked for an override vote. The schools criticizing the new stipend were concerned with two major issues. First, they were concerned with whether all schools would be able to afford the new stipend, especially in the poor economic conditions. And second, concern was raised as to whether the schools which could afford to pay the extra $2,000 as a stipend would gain an advantage in recruiting.

Despite these concerns, Emmert continues to support the legislation and wants it passed. Additionally, Emmert is in favor of the approval of a new postseason format to take place of the current BCS. “I commend the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee on its leadership to move to a playoff model,” he said. “I remain confident that as the details of the new format are determined in the coming weeks, presidents will continue to keep student-athlete well-being, both in the classroom and on the field, front of mind.”

Concerned with whether schools will be permitted to continue to offer the set number of scholarships to incoming football players, Arizona coach Rich Rodriquez believes that it would be crazy to cut back on scholarships at this point. Teams are being asked to play as many as many as 15 games in a season currently and the therefore Rodriquez thinks that there is no way that universities can be asked to reduce the 85-schloarship limit currently in place. “Any talk about that going forward has to cease,” he said. “You’re going to need more players to get through a season healthy.”
One coach that sees the extra funds in a positive light is Washington State’s coach Mike Leach. Leach has no problem awarding players with larger scholarships and believes that the additional money could go towards doing so. As a result, Leach believes that this would in turn allow for additional opportunities for boys to attend a college university. “Give everybody five more scholarships, five more opportunities for guys to go to school,” he said.

On the other hand, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt believes it is too soon to be concern with what to do with the extra money.“I think there’s still a lot of work to be vetting out, and how the revenue is going to be distributed is the first step in that,” he said. “We haven’t gotten that far along in the process but I expect over the course of the next academic year we will do that in meetings.”

Safety and health are two of the most popular reasons that people believe the extra money that will be generated from the new system should be spent on the players. Some former and current athletes have even been attempting to have some of the new funds to be spent on player safety and health.

Safety is the priority of the National College Players Association. This group is an advocacy group comprised of over 17,000 current and former Division I student-athletes. They do not believe that actually compensating the players by paying them with the extra funds is as important as spending the money on keeping the players safe. Former UCLA football player Ramogi Huma and president of the National College Players Association believes that the universities should not be permitted to add extra games to a team’s season without adding extra safety protections to decrease head trauma risks that go along with contact sports.