Bob Stoops has spoken. Players get enough.
The Sporting News' Matt Hayes talked with the head football coach at Oklahoma over pay-for-play and full-cost scholarships, and Stoops didn't mince his words.
“I tell my guys all the time,” Stoops said. “You’re not the first one to spend a hungry Sunday without any money.”
So Stoops is an old-school guy. We get that. But Stoops doesn't even believe players should get a stipend increase, which would cover the players' extra expenses associated with campus life. More from Sporting News:
“You know what school would cost here for non-state guy? Over $200,000 for room, board and everything else,” Stoops said. “That’s a lot of money. Ask the kids who have to pay it back over 10-15 years with student loans. You get room and board, and we’ll give you the best nutritionist, the best strength coach to develop you, the best tutors to help you academically, and coaches to teach you and help you develop. How much do you think it would cost to hire a personal trainer and tutor for 4-5 years?
“I don’t get why people say these guys don’t get paid. It’s simple, they are paid quite often, quite a bit and quite handsomely.”
Oh boy. Opened can, meet worms.
The arguments for and against changes in the NCAA's current athletic scholarships are varied. Some proponents for change believe the players should be paid to play, and some think they should have the full costs of their scholarships covered. Others, like Stoops, think the players get enough.
Yes, the BCS is getting rich with free labor. Yes, that bothers a lot of people. A growing segment of world citizens believes it's entitled to a share of the wealth, and that philosophy has grown among Americans, as well. Sharing the wealth, however, can backfire and cause a crisis, as we've seen in several European countries. What happens when the money runs out?
But we're talking about football players here. Human beings risking possible long-term, irreparable damage to their bodies while making a lot of money for some suits. While not all schools are in the black, the BCS is doing quite well, thank you very much. So why not pay the players?
Do the proponents for change really understand how much the players get from the school that can't be defined by a number? And if those same proponents feel that players should be paid to play college football, why do the players go to college and play without pay in the first place?
If a high school football player wants to play in the NFL, he currently has to wait three years from graduation before he can declare himself eligible for the draft. College is obviously a great opportunity—the player can hone his skills under the best coaches while getting a quality education. Playing at a BCS school also gives the player publicity that can increase his worth when it's time for the draft. That's something you can't put a price tag on.
Stoops doesn't want a scholarship's full cost covered, and pay-to-play is off the table as well—Stoops already believes that players are getting paid enough. While Stoops didn't delve into the problems of paying football players in his statements, we'll go ahead and highlight the issues.
Who gets paid what? Do the star quarterback and the fourth-string tackle get paid the same amount? What if a player gets hurt? Should he still get paid despite not contributing on the field? What happens when a player is paid but ends up academically ineligible and can't play? What if smaller schools can't afford to pay their players? What happens if a player doesn't pay his taxes and his wages get garnished?
What about Title IX? Athletic departments won't be able to afford to pay female athletes in non-revenue sports. What happens to the school's endowment when boosters stop donating to the athletic department because their donations are no longer tax write-offs?
Stoops may have his reasons for not paying college football players to play, but the notion of his not being on board for the full cost of scholarships is a little cold. Isn't that like taking your teenage daughter to Bloomingdale's to buy her a prom dress but telling her she can only spend $15?
Without his players, Stoops wouldn't be making over $4 million per year. He's getting rich off of them. Why not make sure that all of their financial needs are being met while they possibly sacrifice their long-term health?
Maybe the problem could be solved in a very simple way.
Lift the current three-year waiting period from high school graduation to the NFL. It's an archaic rule, and it needs to be stricken immediately. Baseball, hockey and basketball players don't have to wait three years, so why should football players?
Let the student-athlete make a choice after high school graduation: Go directly to the NFL or go to college and hone his skills and get a degree. And if he chooses college, make sure all of his costs are covered. As a college student, Stoops didn't have nearly the same living costs as today's college students. Technology makes everything more expensive.
Stoops needs to get with the times and show a little more compassion for today's college football players. Stop reminding us that you starved on Sundays, and please don't tell us how you walked to school in the snow.
We get it. Stoops doesn't want change. But times have changed. Full cost of scholarship isn't that radical, and neither is lifting the three-year waiting period.
Let the football player decide his future. And let him live with that decision.