It very much looks like we're moving toward paying collegiate athletes. There may be some necessary euphemisms adopted along the way, but the bottom line is, NCAA president Mark Emmert is trying to figure out a way to give student-athletes more money, even if that money is in $2,000 stipends to help with living costs.
Emmert spoke at the national convention of the Black Coaches and Administrators in St. Petersburg, Fla., recently, and the topic of logistical and reasonable financial aid for student-athletes was part of his address.
Emmert said there can and may be ways to give student-athletes additional money, most likely in the form of a few thousand extra dollars, on top of scholarships, since the NCAA is operating so deep in the black.
"We've seen in the last 20 years a huge infusion of money into all of intercollegiate athletics, because of (TV) rights, the attractiveness of games," he said at the Renaissance Vinoy. "The models of how we run games, the facilities, salaries of coaches … there's a lot more resources across the board. The one piece that hasn't changed hardly at all is the support we supply to student-athletes and their families. Despite the massive infusion of money, the size and nature of the scholarship package are still the same. … There are a whole variety of things that I think we need, I know we need to look at, that I am going to insist we look at."Yes, it does make sense, and perhaps so much public pressure, plus the hordes of money bags lying around headquarters, has finally gotten those in charge of the NCAA to think about somewhat-logistical ways to spread the wealth and help student-athletes who are as responsible for this empire as anything or anyone else.
Emmert, still in the infancy of his post as NCAA president, is already doing something of a heel turn from his stance back in March, when he arrogantly rejected any sort of notion that student-athletes should be compensated. I said then he needed to change his approach -- though not in specific regard to the pay-the-players issue -- and he's clearly doing that now.
There's going to be a retreat (so cool, right? Like, OMG, sleeping bags, s'mores and secrets!) in August for college big wigs to address and assess how scholarship packages can be reformed. On the surface this looks progressive, but we're likely headed toward a lot of bloviating in the next two years. I've said it before and I'll say it forever, so long as I have the honor of writing about sports: There is no perfect solution for this. Paying college athletes is the sports world's equivalent to the abortion debate. This move, if it happens, will frustrate just as many people as those who are hand-wrung now over the absence of compensation for players.
We're still far away from model proposals and realistic arguments over what all this means. And there are more questions than ever. Who gets paid? How much? Does inflation in certain regions effect that number, or will it be a flat check cut? And which student-athletes will get money? How much voting and legislation and red tape will need to be endured before we can even decide which student-athletes get an added amount of cash in their pockets?
Paying players, right or wrong, no amount of money will ever be enough. Welcome to the first next step, the newest phase, of our neverending debate.