I will give Dabo some small credit for one thing he did say.
What is your definition of the professionalization of college athletics?
Getting away from scholarships and getting away from academics. Ninety-eight percent of these kids are not playing in the NFL. That’s one of the reasons I do like the NIL because 98% of them aren’t going to make the NFL, so it’s good while they have a nice platform that they can take advantage of these opportunities. Clemson has a million Twitter followers, one of three football programs out there with a million. So it’s good they have an opportunity to make some money while they’re going through their journey right here. But we also know that 98% are not playing in the NFL, so we better be getting that degree. As adults, we should do everything we can to incentivize education — period, the end — and that ain’t ever going to change for me because I know ultimately that’s what creates generational change in young people’s lives…
I will grant he’s saying that primarily because he doesn’t want his players being paid directly for their services, but he’s right that once you sever the link between college athletics and college academics, you really don’t have college sports anymore, just a glorified minor league system.
Along those lines, it seems to me that one of the bigger no-brainers for schools in the wake of the Alston decision would be to pay college athletes directly for their academic success. I mean, if you can write a coach’s contract paying him a bonus for his players’ academic achievements, doesn’t it make sense, both as an incentive and also as a message about priorities, to do that with the athletes themselves?
Well, this being big time college sports, you can probably guess the answer to that one.
In response to a federal judge’s mandate, the NCAA changed its rules in August 2020 to allow schools to pay each of their athletes up to $5,980 per year as a reward for academic performance. The oddly specific dollar amount was calculated during the legal proceedings because it is equal to the maximum amount of financial value an athlete can receive in one year from awards related to their athletic performance, such as conference player of the year titles or the Heisman Trophy. The U.S. Supreme Court solidified the federal judge’s ruling with a 9-0 decision in the NCAA v. Alston case last June.
According to information gathered by ESPN in the past several months from public records requests and a voluntary survey, only 22 of the 130 FBS-level schools say they have plans in place to provide these academic bonus payments to their athletes this year. Twenty months after the initial rule change, and nine months after any doubt about its legal permanence was removed, more than one-third of FBS respondents say they have not yet decided whether they will provide these additional benefits to athletes.
To Dabo’s credit, Clemson is one of those 22 schools. Strangely enough, Georgia isn’t.
… Nine of the 22 schools with plans to pay bonuses this year compete in the nation’s richest conference, the SEC. Georgia, the reigning national champion in football, is the only SEC school that said it was still undecided on bonus payments.
Note that Alabama is silent on the question, so Georgia may not be alone in that regard. Sure would like to hear somebody ask Josh Brooks why, though. (McGarity would mumble something about the reserve fund, I suppose, but I’d like to hear UGA’s thinking on what seems like an easy call to me.)