Players To Demand Stipend, Full Scholarship Costs
Upon word of an imminent $3 billion dollar television deal for the Pac-12 Conference, Corey Drees became upset. Drees, a 6'4" 285-pound freshman offensive line recruit to the University of Wisconsin, was incensed with the idea that even though his university will make millions off of him and other college football players like him, he still has to shell out a gob of money for his first-year chemistry books.
"This is ridiculous", said Drees.
Last season a study conducted by Ithaca College determined that the average scholarship shortfall was $2,951. It's difficult for NCAA student athletes to make up the difference. Players are hamstrung by rules restricting work and their year-round commitment to their sport doesn't allow time for it anyway.
"I don't resent the coaches getting paid astronomical sums of money for what they do, but the idea that I have to make up for the shortfalls of a full-ride scholarship when the schools are making millions off us is mind-boggling."
Drees isn't alone. Tom Foster, a junior offensive tackle at Oregon State, feels the same way.
"I understand that with the implications of Title IX that they'd probably have to give a stipend to every student athlete, but so what? Is someone seriously going to tell us they can't afford this anymore? Three billion dollars to broadcast college football games? Coach using agents to play schools against each other to jack their salaries through the roof? This is an amateur sport?"
Tommy Tuberville received a $500,000 raise from Texas Tech University, raising his pay to $2 million per season. Nebraska's Bo Pelini received a raise that will pay him $2.75 million per year with incentives that should earn him $3 million. Florida State's Jimbo Fisher received a raise to $2.75 million per year after only one year as a head coach.
Drees is considering calling for a strike. He wonders how many others would join him. He feels like it'd be a lot.
"Maybe there'd be some resentment from fans, but I think once we presented the overall picture they'd probably be on our side, kind of like the guys in the NFL."
Like the NFL, college football is bringing in billions of dollars. The last study, done in 2009, showed that the major conferences pocketed more than $1.1 billion in profits. Given the new rash of television deals that number is sure to climb.
It's the rising profits that make Drees is sure he could make a case for a college football players strike.
"You have bowls making millions off us and executives being paid lavish salaries. You have school presidents and chancellors taking free vacations along with their wives and families. Everyone is pointing fingers, creating joke task forces pretending to study the problem. Everyone is making money except us. I still have to come up with $750 just to buy my first-semester books. The only way I see anything changing is if we take matters into our own hands."
But does Drees see a cause to which everyone will be joining in?
"Well, maybe not the SEC. Some of those guys go to a school where they might get cut and not receive a scholarship at all? That's even dumber than the situation the rest of us are in."
As for how he'd get it started, Drees said, "It's like any other movement. Start a Facebook page, start a twitter account, and start mobilizing everyone to get involved. I have to believe that there are other student athletes who feel the same way I do, now I just need to organize them."