Published November 20, 2014
Steve Spurrier has a plan to pay football players — and it wouldn't cost schools or conferences a dime.
South Carolina's head ball coach offered an interesting yet far-from-feasible proposal Wednesday that would give 70 players a $300 stipend every game.
Spurrier acknowledged that the plan probably won't get very far at the Southeastern Conference's annual meetings or in the NCAA realm, but it could open the door for future dialogue on the issue of sharing millions in college football revenue with the guys who really make it happen.
Spurrier, Alabama's Nick Saban, Florida's Will Muschamp, LSU's Les Miles, Mississippi's Houston Nutt, Mississippi State's Dan Mullen and Tennessee's Derek Dooley signed the proposal.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive called it a "generous gesture."
"The bottom line was that they support, as coaches, the concept of full cost of attendance," said Slive, referring to other proposals nationally that would require schools to pay student-athletes cost of living expenses.
Spurrier, who lost his voice two days earlier, whispered his proposal to fellow coaches Tuesday night and then told reporters about his plan a day later. There weren't a lot of details, mostly just signatures on a piece of folded-up paper with a few typewritten paragraphs.
But Spurrier had done the math. And knowing that football coaches, especially those in Bowl Championship Series conferences, are making enough to foot the bill. He said the players could use the extra cash to give to their parents for travel, lodging and meals, or they could take their girlfriends out for dinner.
"A bunch of us coaches felt so strongly about it that we would be willing to pay it — 70 guys, 300 bucks a game," Spurrier said. "That's only $21,000 a game. I doubt it will get passed, but as coaches in the SEC, we make all the money — as do universities, television — and we need to get more to our players.
"We would like to make that happen. Probably won't, but we'd love to do it."
The total cost would be less than $300,000 for a coach whose team plays 14 games. But Spurrier acknowledged that not every coach in the country would be able to do the same, and there certainly would be potential Title IX implications and other hurdles.
"I just wish there was a way to give our players a piece of the pie," Spurrier said. "It's so huge right now. As you know, 50 years ago there wasn't any kind of money and the players got full scholarships. Now, they're still getting full scholarships and the money is in the millions. I don't know how to get it done. Hopefully there's a way to get our guys that play football a little piece of the pie."
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said Spurrier's proposal was received well, but he declined to sign it without more details and discussion.
"We had a dialogue with it," Phillips said. "We talked about having a way to put money to allow the prospects to get some type of expense money. Steve brought a proposal in that opened up some dialogue. ... Just us having a dialogue was important. It wasn't a real standard deal, so I wasn't willing to put my name on anything that wasn't set in stone."
Miles signed it without hesitation, saying it's time to start discussing paying players.
"We want to start a very open dialogue about how to have some of those players who make such a great contribution on Saturdays, who are good students, good people, that are really having hardship even under full grant-in-aid situations, be able to get them some money," Miles said. "That really is the issue.
"I think Steve Spurrier makes a good point with the proposal. In the actual workings, I think it's flawed. But I'm for starting that dialogue. It opens the door."