On the subject of compensating college football players, Bob Stoops gets it right

A week ago, Oklahoma head football coach Bob Stoops explained his position on the issue of player compensation. In a candid interview with Matt Hayes of the Sporting News, Stoops made it clear that he feels that players are adequately rewarded for their athletic talent.

Here are some of his comments:

“I don’t get why people say these guys don’t get paid. It’s simple, they are paid quite often, quite a bit and quite handsomely.”

So how does Stoops justify claiming that players are already paid “handsomely”?

“You know what school would cost here for non-state guy? Over $200,000 for room, board and everything else,” Stoops said. “That’s a lot of money. Ask the kids who have to pay it back over 10-15 years with student loans. You get room and board, and we’ll give you the best nutritionist, the best strength coach to develop you, the best tutors to help you academically, and coaches to teach you and help you develop. How much do you think it would cost to hire a personal trainer and tutor for 4-5 years?

When it comes to this issue, he really isn’t that sympathetic.

“I tell my guys all the time,” Stoops says, “you’re not the first one to spend a hungry Sunday without any money.”

Vocal outrage from a number of different sources began almost immediately upon the publication of his remarks last Wednesday. Some wonder how a wealthy head coach like Stoops can make such statements about athletes.

Far from outraged, I believe Stoops is dead on with his rationale. If you take a step back and analyse this without any personal bias, it is easy to see that his comments are saturated in nothing but common sense.

As to his wealth, what does it matter? Is a person’s annual income a determinant to whether he has the right to comment on ongoing debates, particularly those that are directly related to his job? I can’t think of a more authoritative figure to speak about player compensation than a head coach.

If we were to poll players about their position on this issue, what do you think the result would be? On the other hand, if we were to survey administrators about where they stand on player compensation, it would probably not be that favorable. And I certainly don’t think we should listen to the media on such issues.

The coaches are in the middle, dealing with players and administrators on a daily basis. Not all high-profile coaches agree with Stoops. As Hayes points out in his article, Nick Saban and Brian Kelly support giving players a stipend.

It’s not like players are being held in dungeons; they are receiving one of the most valuable commodities in the American economy:  A free education. Ask any student working his or her way through college about the value of a full-ride scholarship. A college education is an invaluable starting point in life; not everyone gets one.

At the end of the day, universities are not businesses and students aren’t employees. It is as simple as that. A school has the ability to offer a reduction in tuition for individuals it seeks as students.

In addition, compensating athletes monetarily would open up a large volume of unprecedented complexities for the NCAA. And that’s saying something. In view of the countless ongoing scandals and investigations that the organization is currently tied up in, imagine the further turbulence that paying players would cause.

Instead of being chastised from coast to coast for opening his mouth to voice his opinion, Bob Stoops should be applauded for having the guts to push back against the outcry of some in the media and other coaches on this important issue.

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