John Infante of the Bylaw Blog presents a plausible plan for paying college football players, one that could focus the debate for those for and against the professionalization of the sport. Under his plan, FBS football would break away from the NCAA and incorporate ideas from minor league baseball and Generation Adidas soccer contracts.
The NCAA receives the most headaches and bad publicity from college football, but has little vested interest because it does not control the FBS postseason and the associated profits.* Keeping the rest of the NCAA rulebook intact, Infante’s compensation plan would work as follows.
The University would cover players’ tuition and the associated cost of attendance, for the duration of the “contract.”
Players would receive a “salary” of around $15,000 per year to cover room and board, the present cost plus enough to cover ancillary costs.
Players could also receive up to a $100,000 signing bonus paid out over four years.
So, essentially, the average college football player would receive approximately the same benefits as under the current system. The star player would receive the salary plus a bonus of up to $25,000 per year.
[UPDATE: Infante was picturing 65-70 scholarship players with a $3 to $3.5 million cap. Average compensation would be $45-47,000 per player]
If a school, such as Alabama, wished to do the extreme and pay every single scholarship player the maximum bonus, it would cost $2.125 million. That’s no small sum but, considering Alabama presently pays the football coaching staff $8.7 million per year before factoring in bonuses, they could probably make that work. Other schools would pay far less depending on their means.
This wouldn’t affect the balance of power significantly. Schools such as Alabama and Florida already dominate recruiting under the present system. If smaller schools are in play for a kid where money is the overriding factor, Twenty-five thousand per year isn’t an outrageous sum for them to match.
Schools could recover the costs by simply paying head coaches incredibly large rather than obscene amounts of money. They could presumably create a postseason structure that (gasp!) generated revenue.
Infante’s plan doesn’t solve all the issues. The major one being how FBS football would either maintain its non-profit status or generate enough revenue to justify paying taxes. *Leaving the NCAA would complicate, but not solve the Title IX issue. But, it does provide a framework for reasonable debate.
[Photo via Getty]