Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 5/31/12
Leave it to Steve Spurrier to up the ante. At this weeks's SEC meetings, the South Carolina head coach came out with a proposal to pay college football players between 3,500 and 4,000 a year above and beyond their scholarships. Ostensibly, this money would be used to defray living and travel expenses that scholarships don't cover, especially since football players are forbidden by NCAA rules from having jobs. On Wednesday, Spurrier said that football coaches voted 14-0 to present the proposal to league athletic directors. The ADs will discuss it and decide whether to present it to school presidents and chancellors for an official vote Friday.It was exactly a year ago that Spurrier turned a low-key SEC spring meeting into national story when he floated the idea that college players needed to be paid for their efforts. At that time, Spurrier proposed 200 or 300 per game, paid by the coaches to their respective teams. But the amount and accounting weren't as newsworthy as the concept. For more than a century, NCAA officials have recoiled from the idea paying college athletes. The very idea, they have claimed, besmirches the purity of amateurism and soils the values college sports are designed to teach: a ridiculous position that would be laughable were it not for the countless tales of kids who have to cheat in order to make enough money to get home on the weekends or take their girlfriends out for pizza. Now, Spurrier has upped the stakes. NCAA suits are still going through the motions of discussing a 2,000-a-year payment (conversations that are being described by sources as "perfunctory," which is a nice way of saying, they're holding their noses as they go through the motions). But Spurrier has moved beyond the "should they or shouldn't they" argument, and is already negotiating a price. It's a classic debate tactic, one a wily fox like Spurrier has no doubt used many times. Rather than rehash his initial point about players being paid -- an idea that had been out of the headlines for some time -- Spurrier's latest statements assume paying players is a foregone conclusion. "We as coaches believe (student-athletes) are entitled to a little more than room, books, board and tuition," Spurrier said. "Again, we as coaches would be willing to pay it if they were to approve it to where our guys could get approximately 3-, 4,000 a year. It wouldn't be that much, but (be) enough to allow them to live like normal student-athletes. We think they need more and deserve more. It's as simple as that." You see what he did there? By throwing out 4,000, Spurrier hopes someone at the NCAA will say, "Oh, we think that number is too high." When that happens, the argument over whether or not to pay athletes will be over. Every discussion from that point forward will be about price. "It's very similar to (the proposal) last year," said Spurrier, even though he knows the semantics of this proposal are different. Spurrier, for all his ramblings, shined a light on a broken system last year, pointing out, rightly, that everybody in college football was making out like bandits except the kids doing all the work. "We're trying to get extra money for living expense, academic expense, and game-related expenses to our players because of the tremendous amount of money -- billions -- they're bringing (in)," he said. Some will call this another attention grab by Spurrier, who is famous for making provocative statements when the spotlight dims. But by shining a light on the economic realities of college football, he is doing what he's always done: advancing the ball down the field, one first down at a time. -- The Associated Press contributed to this report
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