Today's Twitter Argument: Paying Players

Today's Twitter argument comes courtesy of an interesting Jay Paterno column in at StateCollege.com.  He makes a couple of specific points that are occasionally easy to forget in the whole "Pay the players!" argument.

You will receive fall, spring and both summer sessions of education, plus room, board and all fees paid. For the 604 hours you put in, you'll get an education valued at $33,976 in state and $50,286 out of state (using last year's numbers from Penn State, the latest available). Keep in mind that number does not include several hundred dollars per semester for books and supplies, which are covered under the NCAA scholarship.

If we are to even pretend that these players are "student-athletes," then we have to, at all times, remember that they are getting a free education.  Whether they deserve more, I'm honestly not sure, but we have to remember that they are getting something out of this deal, even if they do not end up in the pros.

RT @JayPaterno: "Paying" big-time college athletes--a reminder that they're getting a great deal already. http://bit.ly/lsTu4mless than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

@FO_College @JayPaterno BS. Start with injury risk, add in how much $$$ they generate for school, and factor in MUCH less time for studies.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

@cfn_ms @JayPaterno How does one go about calculating how much $$ a specific person generates for their school, though? Very abstract.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

@FO_College @JayPaterno Agree with that point. Though as a whole, the players are collectively generating the majority of the revenue.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

@cfn_ms @JayPaterno Their scholarships are worth ~$100K each. Are more than 1% of them really "generating" more than that?less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

@FO_College @JayPaterno Over the course of 4 years (~ 100k can't be over 1 year)? I would say yes.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

@FO_College @SportsBizMiss http://tinyurl.com/3ov3dy3 Ohio St FB makes $40M / year profit. Say players create 50%, <100 players. >$100k per.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

@FO_College @SportsBizMiss And math should be similar at other major programs. And since you'd pay them as a group, you calc them as a groupless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

@TO_College @cfn_ms How do you fund the other sports football profit supports? How do you get around Title IX?less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

@SportsBizMiss @FO_College Major programs should be able to fund reasonable stipends, including for to minor sports. Small schools can't.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

@cfn_ms Have you seen the Ohio State athletic dept budget I posted? They can't afford without more $ from boosters or student fees.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

@SportsBizMiss @FO_College @JayPaterno Depends on proposal. Ohio St has ~ 1k athletes. Pay them $3k / year and it's $3M. They can afford itless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

@cfn_ms @FO_College @JayPaterno they're already $10+m from Buckeye Club and $2m from endowment to run athletic dept.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

My thoughts on why you can't pay college athletes: http://bit.ly/jH4p7d. OSU budget for further support: http://bit.ly/jyL1uS.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

@SportsBizMiss @FO_College @JayPaterno Would agree that it wouldn't be simple, but OSU can find $3M. Maybe from rising TV $, maybe make cutsless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

@SportsBizMiss @FO_College @JayPaterno Small cuts to coaching salaries, less spending here or there, etc. For that budget $3m seems doable.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

@cfn_ms @FO_College @JayPaterno So few schools could do it would create unfair advantage. Only 14 programs break even w/out school support.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

@cfn_ms @FO_College @JayPaterno Not to mention such a small sum would do nothing to curb current issues.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

@SportsBizMiss @FO_College @JayPaterno If they held budgets fixed and just allocated increased TV revenues, would that pay for it?less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

@SportsBizMiss @FO_College @JayPaterno Agree that paying nominal won't cure all issues. But it would help. And many could afford it.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

@cfn_ms @FO_College @JayPaterno Not sure why you think many could afford. Only 14 programs break even without institutional support.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

There are basically two arguments to make regarding the payment of athletes.  Number one, discussed above, is fairness.  Players earn their schools money and should therefore be compensated (beyond receiving free tuition, access to tutors, housing, etc.).  I just cannot throw myself fully behind the idea that players need to be compensated, but if they were to all receive an extra $3k per year, I wouldn't lose much sleep over students getting $8 more a day.

But in creating fairness for some, you potentially create gigantic rifts with others.  If this were instituted, many, many athletic departments (all of them who are already in the red, plus some of the ones who probably aren't) would either need to cut sports (and be careful! Title IX could rear its ugly head! Sorry, wrestling, men's golf, and other male sports) or cut salaries by at least $3M a year to cover it.  And that says nothing of almost every non-BCS school that would be forced, basically, to drop to the FCS level because while they couldn't compete financially before, now they absolutely cannot compete now.

Three million dollars may not be impossible for BCS conference schools, but for most others (i.e. the schools who make less than $3 million per year in TV revenue), it would be a deal-breaker. Sorry, Next Boise State, whoever you are. We're not even going to pretend to give you a chance anymore.

Back to Jay Paterno. Here's the other point he made that I feel was quite worthwhile:

It is all about perspective. The reality is that a few hundred more dollars or even a few thousand dollars to help cover the cost of attendance isn't going to erase the cheating that goes on. The cheating that's going on is for a lot more money than the cost of attendance.

Sadly, this is probably the better -- and infinitely more cynical -- point. If a player is making an extra $3K per year (or, to put it another way, $8 per day) and somebody offers him money or something free (like, say, tattoos) in exchange for a game-worn jersey, or an autograph, or whatever, the transaction is still going to go down.

And then there's the other part of that issue:

Every plan to "pay" CFB plyrs more than they already get ignores laws of a market system. Paying everyone more but same won't work.less than a minute ago via Seesmic for Android Favorite Retweet Reply

@herloyalsons You don't think greedy people will be sated by a couple grand? It's a perfect plan! Cheating will vanish!less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

Any plan for CFB to operate on mkt system will kill CFB, create new XFL with less TnA and none of CFB's spirit.less than a minute ago via Seesmic for Android Favorite Retweet Reply

The most terrifying thing I've read on the topic came from the Kristi Dosh column linked above:

Another way to pay player and avoid the first problem I outlined is to allow agents to pay players. Darren Heitner over at the Sports Agent Blog recently wrote a post advocating the lifting of all regulations against agents paying players. Heitner believes there would be no harm to the athletes from this situation and that it would allow the market to dictate what a player is worth.

Aside from the initial concerns I have regarding the influence these agents would have and the types of promises they could elicit from players about being paid back in the future, I have another bigger concern. Could these agents pay a player to choose a specific school? And what’s to stop a big car dealership in Athens from slipping money to an agent so he can encourage a player to attend the University of Georgia?

I am passionate enough about college football that I have willingly thrown myself into a series of profiles that require me to write an extra 15,000 words per week in addition to what I was writing previously (which, as my wife can attest, was already a lot, even for someone for whom 'writing' is their full-time job). I love this sport despite all of its flaws. If the solution to this "players need compensation" issue is "just let the agents pay them," then that passion would dry up almost instantaneously. Either I would write about just the small schools ... or music ... or, god forbid, I would just throw myself into work around the house. And let me tell you, I'm not even sure my wife wants that.

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