SEC issues: Here comes the money, and more of it

jkendall@thestate.comMay 24, 2013 

SEC ESPN

South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier listens to SEC Commissioner Mike Slive during a news conference announcing the launching of the SEC Network in partnership with ESPN, held Thursday, May 2, 2013, in Atlanta.

JOHN AMIS — AP

Last in a series of previews by Josh Kendall on the key issues at next week’s SEC meetings in Destin, Fla.

THE ISSUE

The piles of money that will be generated by the SEC Network will be stacked upon the piles of money the conference always generates. Those riches create some problems, albeit very good problems, for the league. The biggest issue again raised is the question of more compensation for athletes. If student-athletes receive more, there still will be plenty extra to go around, which might set off another round of spikes in coaches salaries.

That’s hard to fathom considering Alabama coach Nick Saban made $5.5 million last year — and that every coach in the league will make at least $1.5 million next season — but a recent Forbes magazine article recently suggested Saban is actually underpaid. Given how much money college athletics creates for SEC schools, it’s a hard point to argue from a strictly economic standpoint.

You also have to wonder if the scent of new money will rekindle a movement that had limited traction in Washington a few years ago, which is to revisit the NCAA’s status as a tax-exempt organization.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier promised to use the announcement of the new TV deal as an excuse to bring up one of his pet projects, paying football and men’s basketball players what he calls “expense money,” and he was good to his word.

“Most of the athletes that don’t play football and basketball are pretty much happy to have a full scholarship. That’s pretty doggone good, but when you bring in so much money like football and basketball, you have to reward these athletes,” Spurrier said. “Obviously, we can do it. BCS conference schools can do it. The others can’t. I don’t know what’s right or wrong, but I know the performers, football and basketball that bring in all this tremendous amount of money, should be rewarded. It’s a tremendous amount of money. I just believe the football and basketball guys should have a little bit of expense related money.”

WHAT THEY’RE DOING

SEC commissioner Mike Slive has been hesitant to back Spurrier’s proposal, but the conference is pushing for an approximately $2,000 annual increase in the value of a college scholarship for all athletes.

“We have been proponents of increasing to full cost of attendance and have indicated our frustration in terms of getting that done,” Slive said. “We continue to be advocates of that. The reality is it has been sort of stalled at the NCAA level, and we’re anxious to get it moving again.”

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