With the O’Bannon lawsuit gaining some momentum in the form of EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company deciding to settle with the plaintiffs the concept of student-athlete compensation (beyond what those on scholarship currently receive) has been discussed with greater frequency in recent weeks.
On one side of the equation are those who see the television contracts and coach salaries and believe that athletes in revenue sports deserve more. And on the other side are the traditionalists who believe that athletes are well-compensated currently and don’t need to be paid.
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim could best be described as a traditionalist in this regard, and his response to a question from the audience during Wednesday’s New York State Associated Press symposium illustrates this.
“That’s really the most idiotic suggestion of all time. Jay Bilas has pushed it a little bit. And I respect Jay a lot. I think you have to understand something. It’s really very clear. This is really clear.
“I laughed all the time at Chris Webber, who said he didn’t get any money at Michigan because they sold his uniform and the school got all this money and he didn’t get a penny. He didn’t then say that because of the platform he had at Michigan where he made All-American and they went to the Final Four and that he ended up signing a pro contract and ended up making over $100 million playing basketball. Which is what the great players do, and those are the uniforms that sell in college.
“So he didn’t get his $30,000 or $40,000. Well he did, but not by legal means. That’s proven, that’s not something I’m speculating on. But he got his money. Juwan Howard played 20 years in the NBA, also on that Michigan team. Made over $100 million. There’s a guy named Rob Pelinka on that team, who got his scholarship, his full scholarship, became an agent, is Kobe Bryant’s agent, made a lot of money. But he got his $50,000 education for free.”
Boeheim went on to cite the education that players receive, as well as the opportunity for those who meet the qualifications to receive a Pell Grant (additional need-based aid). As Rob Dauster noted earlier today “we’re still a pretty long way” from there being major change to the current model of collegiate athletics. And one of the sticking points will clearly be the scholarships that athletes receive.
Should there be an outright payment to supplement the scholarships? How about a stipend that helps close the gap between the full cost of attendance and the scholarship received? Or will things remain just as they are? It’s pretty clear when Boeheim stands on the matter.
This is just one issue the powers that be will need to address in the future, with the time frame likely being determined by the outcome of the O’Bannon lawsuit.