I freely admit to being a cynic. Part of having a cynical nature is recognizing that there’s cynicism and then there’s world-class cynicism. Me, I’m a rank amateur compared to Jim Delany.
Big Ten officials discussed a proposal that would pay athletes to help cover living expenses on top of their scholarships during the league’s spring meetings this week…
… Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said league athletic directors and officials have seriously discussed whether they should use some of their growing TV revenue to pay athletes more.
That is so nice. But keep in mind it’s a gesture with a price tag.
… Delany stressed that the Big Ten was merely at the discussion stage, but he added the league is interested in talking to other conferences to see if they also favor such a plan. He acknowledged many schools and conferences across the country couldn’t afford to cover those additional expenses, which could run about $300,000 a year just for football and men’s basketball players alone.
That’s 300 large – if you can get away with paying the full scholarships of players in just two sports. Should it become a matter of treating all your scholarship players similarly, you’re suddenly in the neighborhood of a million dollars a year. For an Ohio State, Texas or Georgia, that’s a line item in a budget that gets passed over quickly. But if you’re a bottom feeder in a mid-major conference, it’s Mount Everest. (Hell, for most of those schools, even the $300,000 would be a bear to come up with.) Throwing that kind of expense on top of an athletic budget at a school that’s barely scraping by or losing money is an essentially insurmountable target.
Don’t think that Delany doesn’t know that. Gene Smith sure does.
… But some Big Ten officials say if they can help out their athletes, then the concept of using the same rules for all teams should be abandoned. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said the stakes are simply higher for schools like his than for those in the MAC or Sun Belt.
“The reality is, if there’s cost of attendance and you can’t afford it, don’t do it,” Smith said. “The teams you’re trying to beat can’t do it either. Don’t do it because Ohio State’s doing it. That’s one of the things schools at that level get trapped into thinking.”
Adopt that and you create a world in which one set of schools is paying more scholarship money for its student athletes than another set. In doing so, either you wind up cementing a permanent underclass within D-1, or you force a massive realignment of the have-nots into a lower division. No matter which way you go, it’s a win for the power schools.
And best of all, you’re doing it in the name of the kids. Who’s gonna argue with that?
Jim Delany is one scary sumbitch.