Kids never had it so good!

I know that Ron Morris and Steve Spurrier rather famously don’t get along.  So maybe Spurrier’s unabashed support for paying players is the genesis for one of the dumber things I’ve read recently.

Ron Morris thinks that “COLLEGE athletes should not be paid. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.”… because Pell Grants.

There also is this little secret that many head coaches choose to ignore when they talk about how college athletes live in virtual poverty while they compete: Those athletes who qualify on a need basis receive a federal supplement every semester.

It is called Pell Grant money. Qualified athletes receive up to $5,645 per year, money that is deposited in their bank account by the federal government. The money can be spent any way an athlete chooses. Some send a bulk of the money home for family needs. Others use it to make monthly car payments. Still others use it for spending money.

The money helps athletes from impoverished backgrounds live the life of an average student without hardship.

Now here’s the thing.  As Morris notes, Pell Grants are handed out strictly on a need basis.  So it’s not that every scholarship athlete qualifies for one, or even for the full amount.  As Morris also notes, the average Pell Grant payment to a Clemson student-athlete has been less than $2500 per year.

Let’s take a minute and do a little back of the envelope math here.  College football officially runs for about a five month period, during which student-athletes take part in twenty hours a week of athletic activity.  Call it 22 weeks – at 20 hours a week that’s 440 hours.  2500 bucks for 440 hours works out to $5.68 per hour.  That ain’t even minimum wage, Ron.  (And before anyone goes on about tuition, room and board, I’ll make a deal with you.  You don’t talk about that, and I won’t talk about the rest of the year’s “voluntary workouts”.)

There’s a picture of everyone’s poster boy for gettin’ paid accompanying Morris’ piece.  Perhaps it’s worth remembering that Manziel’s agreement to sit at a table with a bunch of boosters netted $20,000… for the school.  That’s the part of this that Morris doesn’t get, or perhaps more accurately, refuses to get.  Why should a bunch of punks make bank anyway?  Not because Steve Spurrier says so.


UPDATE:  John Infante has more thoughts on Morris’ column.


Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness, Media Punditry/Foibles

36 responses to “Kids never had it so good!

    • Russ


    • Joe Schmoe

      Notice that $11K of the $17K is room and board. I’d like to see the writer live on $6K for a year. Some goes for Morris. That is ridiculous for him to act like $5K is a truck load of money. It isn’t 1910 for god sake. Attending school is extremely expensive.

      • what do you think the average student lives on? i roomed with some track and cross country runners while at UGA. They lived like kings compared to me and my friends.

  1. DawgPhan

    Meh, that article isn’t even close to a reality for football players and presents a best case scenario as being the case for most football players when it isnt. Plus the Math is a little wonky as it only counts rent against the total assistance, when it would also need to cover meals, utilities, furniture, transportation, walking around money and all the general items that you need money for.

    Even if you accept the general premise that each football player gets $17k/year (they dont) it still wouldn’t cover everything that they need. Math isnt that hard.

    Nearly all of the money is either a part of their scholarship with the remainder being a needs based grant.

    A DGD like Chris Conley talked about being a student athlete that falls through the cracks…parents well off enough so he doesnt get assistance, but not wealthy enough to drop money in the mail that often.

    Nothing in that rant against student athletes would really assist him.

  2. Normaltown Mike

    Those girls on the Equestrian team totally need to get paid…and the girls on the softball team… and the girls on the hoops team… and the gym dawgs….

  3. GaskillDawg

    Morris perpetuates the stereotype that black athletes are poor kids because, well , they are black. Lots of middle class kids, black and white, are good enough athletes to qualify for athletic scholarships but do not qualify for needs based assistance.

    I still roll my eyes at comments on the Hive and Stingtalk about Herschel’s Trans Am. “How was a poor black kid able to buy a Trans Am? Geprgia must have bought him.” No, Willis Walker was a foreman in a kaolin mine. He was a member of the UBited Mine Workers and the company was a unionized company. Willis Walker got paid union wages. His Mother had a full time job in a textile plant. Together they had just as much borrowing ability as two income white families in Wrightsville and were able to walk into the bank and get a Trans Am loan, especially since both of their college kids were on full ride academic scholarships. Takes a helluvan engineer to assume that black kids from the country must be on welfare and food stamps because they are black kids form the country.

    • The textile plants are lofts now. That’s true for Athens and Atlanta. Outside of Macon there is an abandoned Kaolin mine with water as blue as the Pacific. We used to go there and swim. There was a small country store nearby that sold kaolin wrapped in cellophane. Pregnant women bought it to ease an upset stomach. You don’t see that anymore.

    • Hank

      Don’t forget the brand new addidas sweat suit he wore every day of the week. For those of us who were around then… We have broken a rule or two.

  4. Rick

    Senator, I’m not sure it’s even worth trying to engage the debate from the side of whether an athlete can get by. You are going to fight a losing battle, so don’t even bother.

    The problem is not that athletes live in poverty, in practical terms they absolutely do not. The problem is the gaping chasm between their compensation and the money being generated off of their efforts (and, hence the amount they could get on a true free market). That is the toxin that is poisoning college athletics right now, and will forever until it is addressed. It will require additional compensation, no question about it.

    • I don’t think that “toxin” is isolated to college athletics. I’m sure those kids making sneakers for Nike and I-phones for Apple would concur.

      • Rick

        I’m not sure I follow the analogy. The situation with those shops seems to be almost entirely free-market based, it just happens that the free market affords minimal compensation in impoverished countries.

        • DawgPhan

          ahhh…the free market…sure it fucked those guys, but hey it’s the free market…

          • Biggus Rickus

            Fucked them relative to what? Might they be better off at whatever wage they are making than they would be if those jobs didn’t exist at all?

            • Apple is certainly better off. And now that since they have placed nets over the factory dorm windows and implemented a retirement program there the number of jumpers has declined. It’s a pity they don’t appreciate what they have. Even American textile workers became a bit peeved at management on occasion. They handled it a bit differently though.
              I sure we know what’s best for them.

              • Cosmic Dawg

                If people are being forced to work somewhere at the point of a gun, you have a point. Until then, given the thousands of these factories around the world that do not in fact burn down, we have to assume that working at these factories is still healthier than walking around in a swamp behind an ox in your bare feet. This does not excuse a company and its consumers for working for better conditions, but your argument misses the point.

                In your post, you yourself are the one assuming to “know what’s best for them”, btw, when in fact you’re trying to take the choice out of their hands!

                As far as I can tell, every country on earth has gone through these stages on their way to making a better future for the next generation.

          • Rick

            I hope I didn’t give the impression that it’s right for people in impoverished countries, or anywhere for that matter, to have a quality of life subject entirely to free market forces. I most certainly do not. I was merely pointing out that it wasn’t a particularly enlightening analogy in this case.

          • Cosmic Dawg

            Which “guys” are you talking about?

            By the way, to all of you above – every market affords minimal compensation in impoverished countries…except a relatively free market gives you quantum leaps in standard of living and the rest give you centuries of stagnation with (traditionally) the largest income inequality between the very few rich and everybody else.

            So, just curious, what kind of system do you find superior to evil capitalism, and do you really wish you were living under that system right now?

  5. Skeptic Dawg

    I stand on the “Never Pay College Athletes” side. Is the cost of full tuition, room and board, access to around the clock top notch medical, training table and unlimited free tutoring not enough? I am not naive enough to believe these kids are not receiving under the table kickbacks. Who couldn’t use more cash? Yes, the NCAA, the conferences and te individual schools are making money hand over fist, but these kids are receiving tens of thousands of dollars with of services and education at zero charge.

    • Rick

      So you are happy to give an advantage to the schools that are simply the most talented at giving under the table kickbacks? Wouldn’t you prefer some sort of limited compensation that reduced the pressure for such kickbacks to exist in the first place?

    • DawgPhan

      no such thing as around the clock training table. If a football player gets sick during the summer, I would imagine he heads over to Health Services like a regular student. And they aren’t getting it at zero charge, they are paying with their service, in the classroom and on the field.

      • Debby Balcer

        And they pay for the prescription and the health services bills the parents insurance. Books are expensive. I would imagine a good portion of that money goes towards books and supplies. They can’t hold jobs so they can’t enjoy the normal life of a student.

    • On the day you see a student-athelete endeavoring to sell his scholarship paid books back to the bookstore you know something’s amiss. Radi Nabulsi has repeatedly said many football players were needed to send money to their families for food and utility payments, and he talks to them almost daily. Now, Flornoy-Smith might just have been a spendthrift, but I think all that was just poverty driven.

    • mp

      What if the athlete don’t want the education? The university really doesn’t give a shit about giving the eductation except to keep him eligible. Why can’t the two parties, then, enter into an agreement where the institution provides cash instead?

  6. Derek

    As long as the colleges are bringing in kids that have no business being on a college campus and no interest in obtaining a degree, then they should be paid. If you are bringing a functional illiterate to college to make money off of him then you share that money. However, if things were as they ought to be then playing football in exchange for a free education makes sense. If UK signs a kid who says he is entering the draft after only one full semester in school, why shouldn’t Kentucky pay the kid a share? Both parties are only concerned about the money and neither values the scholarship.
    A kid who is truly interested in getting a degree won’t complain about being “used” by the school. He’ll know how truly valuable that degree is. (BTW: do we have to pay kids that play at Stanford? I mean isn’t that degree worth more than one from Arizona State?) A school that only allows people who are interested and capable of obtaining a degree on campus isn’t using the kids. However, when it is transparently obvious that neither party gives a damn about anything but the money, then yes they ought to share in it.

  7. Macallanlover

    I am somewhere in the gray area on this. I believe full ride athletes, whose sport produces enough school revenue that it doesn’t take from other sports/students, should receive some spending money. Now that assumes they get their room and board, tuition, and books totally paid for. If so, I think $400-500 per month is adequate. That would give them gas money, and date money enough to live at the level most college students do…or better. I don’t think we owe them a car payment, nor additional meal money above what is provided by their scholly.

    My kids went to school from 1999-2006 (3 years each) and I allocated them $200 every week for spending money which included their meals, gas, and entertainment costs. We provided the car, room, tuition, clothes, books, etc. I thought that was fair then, and I think the $400-500 per month on top of what is provided on a full ride is fair now. Is that a princely sum? No, but it is enough to allow them to live as well as other college students. They may have to make some decisions and budget their spending but that is also a part of going off to school.

  8. Dog in Fla

    “Update: John Infante has more thoughts on Morris’ column”.

    “It is easy to turn his argument around and ask why athletic departments and the NCAA should be able to use federal education money to help fund college athletics.”

    Because they are experts in The Art of The Grift

    “A true grifter feels justified in taking a mark’s money. The best grifters have marks literally thrusting their money at them, pleading with a grifter to take it. This is the adrenaline rush that the grifter craves.”