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June 6, 2012
HARTSVILLE - Steve Spurrier doesn't want to pay college football players. But he would like to reimburse them for some of their expenses incurred during football weekends in the fall such as lodging and meals for their families.
So, portraying his well-publicized recent proposal as a "pay for play" scheme for players is inaccurate and unfair, he insists.
"The plan we came up with was expenses-related money," Spurrier said Tuesday night prior to his talk to the Darlington County Gamecock Club at the Hartsville Country Club, a makeup of the rained out May 24 event at Darlington Raceway.
"This is not play for pay. If it was play for pay, we would have some guys making a couple hundred thousand dollars per year with all the money coming in from television and other things. This is purely expense money for football players so they can live a little better than the way they're living now."
A year ago, Spurrier first proposed SEC head coaches reimburse players out of their own pocket. Six other SEC coaches signed a petition Spurrier had drafted and presented at a meeting.
This year, he took it a step farther by proposing the coaches reimburse each player up to $300 per week. The maximum weekly sum each coach would be liable for is $21,000.
The 14 SEC football coaches voted unanimously in favor of the plan last week at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla. The SEC basketball coaches then drafted a similar proposal, Spurrier said.
"Their guys would also through the course of the year get between $3,500 and $4,000," Spurrier said. "Under our plan, it would be up to the head coach to dispense the money. Guys who play every game would probably get $300 per game, while those guys who never play even though they're on scholarship may only get $150 or so. We're believers that everything in life is performance-based.
"It's really not that complicated. The head coaches decided we'll be responsible for distributing $21,000 per game. The maximum any player could get was $300. Some guys could get half-shares of $150 if a coach wanted to give money to more than 70 players. Just keep it at $21,000 per game. If you play 13 games, that's $273,000. We'll be glad to take that out of our contract."
Walk-ons would also be eligible to receive funds from the coaches under Spurrier's plan. The proposal now being considered by the NCAA to pay a $2,000 "full cost of scholarship" stipend only provides for payment to athletes on scholarship.
"It doesn't make sense to me that the deal they came out with last year, everybody on scholarship gets $2,000," Spurrier contended. "What about the walk-on guys that are contributing more than the scholarship guys."
Spurrier emphasized his plan is performance-based. The players who perform the best will get $300, while second- and third-teamers that don't play much could get less. The head coach would decide the amount each player receives on a weekly basis up to $300.
"A backup guard could get $300 for the week and (Marcus) Lattimore could get $300," Spurrier said. "It's based on performance, the guys who contribute to the success of the team (will get more)."
Certainly, the SEC and the other major college football conferences are getting wealthy largely because of the efforts of the athletes the coaches seek to reimburse a few hundred dollars each week.
Last week, the SEC distributed $241.5 million to the 12 member schools during the 2011-12 academic year, an average payout of $20.1 million per school. The Big 10 distributed more than $280 million to their schools.
The yearly total distributed by the SEC to its schools has more than doubled in 10 years. The sum of $95.7 million was handed out in 2002.
"The whole point (about the reimbursement) is how much they bring in," Spurrier said. "Someone told me that I didn't get paid any extra money when I played. I responded that neither did the coaches or the universities. We weren't even on television when I played except for one game a year. It's a whole different scenario because of the tremendous amount of money that's coming from football and men's basketball."
Does Spurrier believe his plan has any chance of being approved by the SEC presidents? No.
"Not my plan. They would never take a coach's plan," Spurrier said. "I think something will come of it."
In order to be seriously considered by the league presidents, Spurrier's proposal must be formally submitted in writing to the SEC office. At that point, it would move through the proper legislative channels until possibly reaching the presidents.
The SEC presidents didn't discuss Spurrier's reimbursement proposal because it wasn't put on the agenda prior to the spring meetings.
"The legislative process starts before the meetings," USC president Dr. Harris Pastides said last Friday in Destin. "You have to get it on the table and make the proposal. I can't even tell you if it was viewed as a good idea or not. I haven't even studied it, though I think I understand it. Coach Spurrier came here with some good ideas, but I would call them 'first time vetted' here. At some point, if he thinks it's a great idea we need to study it and then possibly propose it to the conference."
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