South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier (Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
A recent study done by National College Players Association attempts to put a dollar figure on the value of college athletes. The report, “The Price of Poverty in Big Time College Sport,” says the average player for a Football Bowl Subdivision is worth $121,000 per year to his school, while the average basketball player at the highest level is worth $265,000 per year. The report was written by Ramogi Huma, a former linebacker at UCLA and the head of the NCPA, along with Drexel University professor Ellen J. Staurowsky.
Some would certainly argue the numbers in the report, but South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier wouldn’t be one of them. He believes the report is on the money when you consider the significant boosts conferences such as the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 have received in television revenue in recent years.
"Of course, I think it's true," Spurrier said to ESPN.com. "I mean, 20 years ago, 50 years ago, athletes got full scholarships. Television income was what, maybe $50,000? And now everybody's getting 14, 15 million bucks and they're still getting a scholarship."
Interestingly there has never been any real consideration to compensate athletes at these big-time schools beyond the value of a full-ride, but even that doesn’t cover all expenses for athletes who can’t work due to the demands of their respective sports and class work. NCAA President Mark Emmert supports increasing grants-in-aid to cover the full cost of college but nothing beyond that.
Spurrier and some of his SEC coaching comrades have said they would be willing to give their players as much as $300 per game out of their own pockets if it was allowed by NCAA rules. Spurrier is among those who believe student-athletes in the revenue-producing sports deserve compensation between $3,000 and $4,000 per year because of the enormous amount of money they bring into their universities.
"That's just my opinion," Spurrier said.
The report recommends:
— Legislation that will allow universities to fully fund their athletes’ educational opportunities with scholarships that fully cover the full cost of attendance.
— Lifting restrictions on all college athletes’ commercial opportunities by adopting the Olympic amateur model.
— Promoting the adoption of legislation that will allow revenue-producing athletes to receive a portion of new revenues that can be placed in an educational lockbox, a trust fund to be accessed to assist in or upon the completion of their college degree.
— Letting colleges be free to provide multiple-year scholarships in all sports if they so choose.