SANDESTIN, Fla. – South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is willing to pay money out of his own pocket to players on a per game basis, and six other SEC coaches liked the idea enough to agree in writing.
Spurrier presented a proposal during Wednesday’s SEC Spring Meetings where coaches would pay football players $300 a game. He then spoke to the media and displayed the petition on a piece of paper with signatures at the bottom.
“A bunch of us coaches felt so strongly about it that we would be willing to pay 70 guys 300 bucks a game,” Spurrier said. “That's only 21,000 bucks a game. I doubt it can get passed, but as coaches in the SEC, we make all the money, as do universities and television. We need to give more to our players. … I asked all the guys that wanted to sign to sign it, and I told all the guys I'm going to tell the media who signed.”
Of the 12 league coaches, seven of them signed the paper. According to Spurrier, they were Alabama’s Nick Saban, Florida’s Will Muschamp, Tennessee’s Derek Dooley, LSU’s Les Miles, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, Ole Miss’ Houston Nutt and Spurrier himself.
Richt said afterward that he didn't disagree with the spirit of the proposal but that it wouldn't work in the form presented by Spurrier.
“I think all the coaches would like to see our student-athletes be able to get more financial help,” Richt said. “Our guess is the best way to help them is through the increasing of the scholarship. If you start giving out money in any other form, there may be some tax implications and things of that nature. But we do believe that student-athletes ought to get more. … You've got amateurism issues. You've got tax issues. Everything has just got to be done in such a way. Our best guess is that it would have to done through some time of increasing of the definition of a scholarship.”
Spurrier’s proposal came at a time when the idea of full-cost scholarships is gaining support on a national level.
And the catch to Wednesday’s idea is that – for a number of reasons -- it is not possible to be enacted on a conference level, according to SEC commissioner Mike Slive and various athletics directors in attendance.
“Those are all national, NCAA issues. All we can do is start the dialogue,” said Slive, who supports the idea of full-cost scholarships for athletes.
“This cost of attendance conversation is going to continue,” Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley said, “and I think that will probably gain some momentum. How does that work out? What does that mean? It's just beginning. But I think the conversation is probably a long time coming. … Coach Spurrier's desire is part of that conversation. You just couldn't do it individually for one sport. You couldn't go it individually in this league. It would be national legislation.”