It seems like every other day, there is news that a collegiate athlete has been suspended or punished in some form for receiving improper benefits. Aj Green was suspended for four games for selling a game jersey, UNC lost the majority of it's starting defense for their season opener, and Reggie Bush gave back his Heisman; all within the last month.
Whether it's the rules that are in place, or the way Universitys monitor the actions of their athletes, something has to change. Gary Williams, always a source for good ideas, has one that might just fix this whole NCAA eligibility mess; pay the athletes in the first place. He said as much in a radio interview on Baltimore's 1370, via Dan Steinberg.
"These guys don't receive anything except room, board, books, tuition and fees, which doesn't put any cash in their pockets, and some of these guys are pretty poor coming here, and a lot of college students have some money. You feel out of place, you don't feel competitive academically sometimes, and I think it could do a lot of good.
I think so too, Gary. More quotes, including how paying these guys might keep those evil agents away, after the jump.
The academic point Gary makes is an interesting one. I'm not sure giving money to these athletes would make them feel more at home academically in the University, but it might help them feel like they are really part of the student community there. Which I suppose could help them academically as well.
But as I mentioned before, the real virtue of paying athletes is that it might prevent them from accepting additional benefits that might make them ineligible.
hopefully, it would keep away some of the unscrupulous people that do hang around the great athletes, where an athlete wouldn't befriend a guy just because a guy gave him 100 bucks or something like that.''
The theory is that athletes would be less willing to take money from agents if they already had some money in their pockets.
Gary continues to say that the only thing stopping the NCAA from paying these athletes is the rules that are in place, not a lack of funds.
"That's what the NCAA will tell you,'' he said, "but if you did pay the revenue-producing sports athletes, you would still have that money coming in that they exist on now. There's plenty of money off the men's basketball tournament that you can pay men's basketball players, football players, whatever, the revenue-producing sports, and still have enough money to run your other sports. And I think that's why a lot of people (believe) they should be paid.''
Steinberg also includes a tweet from Darren Rovell that points out to Gary that because of Title IX, you can't just pay one sport, more precisely one gender, of student athletes; and that it might not be reasonable to pay all your athletes the same amount. Which is a good point, but it doesn't mean the idea shouldn't be explored.
If Reggie Bush had a stipen, would he still have allegedly accepted the improper benefits that have since rendered him ineligible? Maybe. But would it have provided more incentive for him to say no when he was offered those benefits? Yes; and that's all we can really ask for in a new rule. To provide these students with a better reason to say no.