The new SEC Network, details of which are scheduled to be unveiled later today, is going to be worth a lot of money. With the growing reach of the Big Ten Network, and the record-setting contract Larry Scott helped engineer for a Pac-12 Network hardly anyone gets from his/her TV provider, football’s premiere conference commanding top dollar was a given.
SEC cheerleaders like Clay Travis see it as a fist pump-worthy gloating point against the other conferences. However, there’s something much more important at stake than regional pride.
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier, as he is wont to do, voiced his opinion in no uncertain terms. He told GoGamecocks.com:
My question is, ‘When are we going to start giving a little bit of it to the performers? [...] They bring in an awful lot of money for all of us.
Spurrier’s many outstanding players over the years have certainly provided him a cut of that money. He was college football’s first million dollar head coach while leading the Florida Gators. Less than two decades later, assistants are making that much. There’s more money to go around, and everyone is getting richer — except the players.
Few will broach the subject as bluntly as Spurrier, particularly in the coaching ranks. Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops took the opposite side of the debate. Meanwhile, administrators like Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany vehemently condemn the idea of revenue sharing. Delany went so far as to threaten adopting a Div. III model, thereby killing the golden goose.
Yes, most Div. I college football players receive scholarships that alleviate them of the burden that is paying for higher education. But this was compensation that existed long before SEC and Big Ten and Pac-12 Networks were generating revenue in excess of nine digits.
There is no easy answer for this conundrum. Title IX presents roadblocks, as do the non-revenue sports in general. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a way to navigate these waters, but staying the same course the NCAA has followed for decades will crash the ship into said iceberg.