With the NCAA rules like they are I don't see how they can do it and there may be 50 to 60 schools that can afford to do it for football, but I doubt there is that many that can afford to do it for athletes in every sport. That would be a huge drain on any athletic department's budget.
Steve Spurrier at South Carolina has proposed the idea of the money coming from the coaches themselves, but if that was allowed what would happen is that the coaches would have extra money built into their contracts to take care of that expense. I think Coach Spurrier's proposal was probably just conversation.
Another reason I believe the whole idea is just going to be conversation is that when you look at colleges around the country many of them don't have enough money to adequately fund the programs they are currently trying to support. If they had to provide a stipend for all of their athletes, that would send them even further into a financial hole. I just don't think that is going to happen.
Something that may be more practical for athletes who are struggling to get by financially is to set up a loan program. Athletes could borrow the money they need to get through school and pay back their loans when they have finished college and have full-time jobs. That kind of program would be fair to everybody.
When you look at athletic programs around the country, football and basketball are the ones bringing in the money at most colleges. In some places baseball probably breaks even or brings in some money, but most colleges rely on their cash cow programs, namely football or basketball, for financial support. Those are the tickets that people want. I doubt there are many other sports that break even.
Fortunately for a school like Auburn, people are willing to pay extra for football seats near the 50-yard line or for suites. They are also willing to pay extra for the best seats at the new basketball arena.
Football is a social thing here in the Southeast and people will save to buy their season tickets and plan their year financially and socially around the season. Auburn fans will follow their team to Columbia, to Knoxville, to Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge or wherever to be a part of the event. They will even go to the Arizona desert by the tens of thousands as we witnessed in January.
A lot of people make vacations out of their football trips and it is a way of life that is not duplicated in many parts of the country. With that type of fan support, SEC programs could certainly afford to give expense allowances to football players, but for financial reasons I don't think there would be enough support from other college conferences to get this type of legislation approved.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor's Note: This part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn who was also head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming, Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns a week--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.