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Swofford On Paying College Athletes

At the SEC's media day, Steve Spurrier caused a small stir by repeating his suggestion that college football and basketball players be paid.

ACC commissioner John Swofford took the subject up, briefly, pointing out that there were a number of problems with the proposal:

"It’s very difficult to look at it in terms of a sport or two sports, just from a legal standpoint, with Title IX and what’s appropriate and what’s moral. It’s more complicated than at first meets the eye. Some of it’s the difference in financial capability that programs have in the NCAA and the tremendous range of financial capability that programs have."

Morality is a term which, when applied to college sports, makes people snicker, but all of us should strive to be moral, even when we fall short, perhaps especially then.

More immediate are the legal consequences: for now at least, college sports are tax-exempt and non-professional insofar as no one outside the SEC can count on being paid. As educational institutions, they also are subject to Title IX and all regulations and rulings which apply.

In a nutshell, while media rights are definitely market-oriented and free enterprise, the teams are not. You can't pay revenue athletes and not pay the rest. A lawsuit would be filed by noon, and, as Swofford fully realizes, the NCAA would lose.

With the discussion of a new NCAA division, perhaps that's the time to look at changing the relationship between school and athlete.  Whatever they do, if they continue to treat revenue producing athletes the same as non-revenue producing athletes - let's boil it down to basics - they can't afford to pay them.

We don't remember the exact number, but only a handful of athletic programs actually make money. Notable basket cases include broke Maryland and essentially broke Tennessee of the almighty SEC, where money is supposed to rain down from the heavens.

If an SEC school can't make it on its share of $289 million, plus its own separate income (think tickets, jerseys, summer camps, parking fees, alumni associations, etc) what's the point?