UT athletic director Steve Patterson may be the biggest jerk working in college athletics, but he’s not stupid. His announcement this week that, should things play out in the legal arena such that O’Bannon is the law of the land, Texas is prepared to pay its student-athletes $10,000 a year is a clever shot across the bow. It doesn’t cost him anything now to say it, it’s nothing he could avoid paying in the future if the courts rule against him, and in the meantime his athletic department will reap the benefits of his planting the first flag with a dollar sign on it in the minds of recruits. That’s well-played in my book, especially from a guy who’s been dismissive of the entire effort to compensate student-athletes more fairly.
But I doubt it’s the end of the matter. Not even close. He may be cracking open the door, but I suspect there will be other schools ready to push it far more open.
Long term, let’s face it: if there’s one thing that can trump demographics, it’s money. They may not be growing the five-star talent in the Rust Belt at the rate they way they are in the Sun Belt, but Big Ten money spends just as well down here. Besides, it’s good for BTN ratings.
Can you say bidding wars? I thought you could.