OU Football Coach Supports Paying College Athletes?

Football player and moneyIf you have even been in a conversation about the role of college sports, at some point someone will talk about misplaced priorities in terms of spending and complain that the football or basketball coach makes more than the university president, much less the highest paid professor on campus. Another person will inevitably respond with that no one pays to watch a professor teach biology. It’s about the money. Since people are willing to pay for it, then the school is justified in spending it.

It would seem that OU football coach Bob Stoops agrees. According to the Muskogee Phoenix, when asked about how much he is being paid, he thinks he’s worth it because of the money he brings in:

Stoops is on course to make over $4.5 million this season and sources have told the Transcript he will receive a raise and extension later this month.

Yet, his salary is $2 million per year less than deal Alabama announced its coach, Nick Saban, has signed.

Is it too much?

 “When you compare it to what maybe they bring in, probably not,” Stoops said when asked about Saban’s new deal. “Compare it to what they (Alabama) were bringing in before he got there and before the program’s doing what it is now. I don’t know. Business is business. I don’t think anybody pays something that they’re not able to afford, or that doesn’t put them in a positive position. That’s in all businesses.

“For instance, in our case, I don’t know, we’ve given roughly 40 to 44 million dollars to our academic programs and the university as a whole over the last 10 years. That seems to be a pretty positive business model. When before Joe Castiglione and President (David) Boren got here, I think they were losing money. (University) was funding the athletic program. So, listen, numbers are numbers. Those numbers seem to be pretty positive.”

No salary cap here. After all, the man brings in enough money each year so that the academic programs receives approximately an additional four million dollars a year. Doesn’t 40 million sound so much better than the four million a year it actually represents? Who can argue with paying the man four million when he brings in that much extra for the university? They should be grateful he isn’t demanding an even bigger share of the “profit.”

But back to my point-justifying your salary by the amount of money you bring in and the salary cap issue. See, money sport athletes are essentially playing under a salary cap. No matter how much people pay to see them play, they’re never going to get a raise.

Yet I know when I watch the Texas-OU game, it isn’t because of the coaches or the stadium. I want to see the UT football team crush OU, preferably without any concussions but that’s another issue. So why don’t the players get their share?

Now I will grant you that the coach has a lot to do with the team winning or losing. And if the team is losing, unlike professors with failing students, he will be fired. But players also get cut if they don’t perform. And let’s face it, the coach isn’t working with just a random number of students selected from the general student population, these players were recruited so that the team can win.

Winning brings in dollars which is why Stoops believes that he’s worth the money the state school pays him. So, of course, you would naturally expect him to support paying the athletes who are so critical to his success, right?

Wrong. From Bob Stoops himself,

“I tell my guys all the time,” Stoops says, “you’re not the first one to spend a hungry Sunday without any money.”

Since he had to suffer to get his multi-million dollar contract, so can his players. Besides, they’re getting scholarships aren’t they? He probably thinks, they should be grateful that the amount doesn’t go down when the team losses. Actually, poor performing players are probably just cut from the team and I suspect they lose their scholarships when that happens.

Ultimately, these scholarships are just the NCAA version of salary caps. He’s fine with the free market allowing him to make millions but wants to exclude the players from the marketplace that allow him to make that money. Simply put, Stoops has made it to the top of the company town and sees no reason for change.

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