Media Day: Pirates Talk Pay-For-Play

GREENVILLE, N.C. — ECU coaches and players weigh in on the pay-for-play issue during the team's annual media day Tuesday.

The question we presented to East Carolina football players and coaches was simple: are today’s student-athletes getting everything they need and do they support the idea that they should be paid while playing?

Below are the responses from Ruffin McNeill, Lincoln Riley, Shane Carden, Justin Hardy, Isaiah Jones and Davon Grayson.

Head Coach Ruffin McNeill

“My whole deal is making sure the scholarship is worth what the actual admission to college is. I’m not talking about pay-for-play or anything like that, but making sure the scholarship meets up what the (regular) student gets. I think that’s fair. As for unionizing, I’m not for all that. I’m different. I’ve got guys that there are not a problem. But I’ve got some guys that have been homeless three years of their life. I can’t tell you how many kids that I am their dad. I know five of my kids were homeless and I’m talking ‘on the street’ homeless. I won’t tell you their names, but I’ve been in their homes. They work for (the scholarship) too … and then we have to make sure we’re proper off the field, and then making sure we have to do classroom standards. So not paying them, I think that’s a great move. Then whatever is left, make sure they take that. If we do have extra money, (director of football administration, Dale) Steele have already visited about a way to help pay and say ‘here’s a bank account’ and teach them how to manage their money and those kind of things. It’s not going to be anything where anybody is getting rich, but it will be something that they will be able to get a meal if they have to. Now, I’m able to provide meals to them, which is good. That’s one thing the NCAA has passed.”

Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley

“I applaud the NCAA on a few rules. It’s the nice to have some rules that have some common sense behind them and (providing student-athletes unlimited meals) was certainly one of them. I think you’ve got to walk the line because I think protecting their amateurism is one of the great things about this game. I think once we cross that line, it’s a slippery slope and it’s going to be tough to ever go back. We’ve got to walk the line of protecting amateurism, but we also got to take care of these guys. These guys put a lot into these universities and they put a lot of time into what they are doing — and they get a lot of out of it too, there’s no question — but while they are here, we’ve got to be able to take care of necessary stuff like food.”

Quarterback Shane Carden

“It’s talked about, it’s joked about and it’s a hard situation. Where do you draw the line and stop the paying and all that. I’ve looked at it and I’ve thought about it. I believe it’s going to change. In what way? I’m not sure and will it be better? I’m not sure about that either. I think with everything going and the magnitude of what college football is becoming, how big it’s becoming, and the amount of money that is coming in right now, I believe something is going to change. I won’t be around for it, so I guess that’s not the worst thing. I believe there can definitely be some kind of penchant or some kind of budget that goes in. Maybe as the money comes, it gets saved up for a player. You think about a lot of players that have come through and have been great football players from bad backgrounds that as soon as college football is up and the NFL doesn’t work out, then what? They got their degree, but at some point, it’s kind of like you just put four extra years of not being able to get a job, not being able to build up a resume and you don’t have any money to show for it. I think there should be some kind of (compensation) that waits for you after college, that you’re able to dive into once college ends. I don’t think that will get into any kind of amateurism problems. You don’t get it while you’re an amateur, but you get it after you’re done with your eligibility.”

Senior receiver Justin Hardy

“As far as here, I think I’ve been given all I need. But at the same time, there are probably things other people might need that we don’t know about. So you can’t really tell, but I know here we’ve got the meals, so everything will be very good.”

Sophomore receiver Isaiah Jones

“I feel like everyone has their own story. Everybody goes through stuff. We have star-studded guys here and we have some walk-on guys here. Everyone has their own personal business that we don’t really discuss like that. But as far as pay-for-play, I enjoy the game. I go out, I play. Right now I think are main focus is to play for East Carolina and we get some great stuff. Coach Ruff looks out for us with the new gear, the new jerseys and everything. That’s all great. All the money and stuff, that will come later at the next level or besides that. But for right now, we’re just focused on doing what we need to and just enjoying the time that we have with each other.”

Sophomore receiver Davon Grayson

“(Coming to ECU), that is a blessing in itself. Are there other things that we don’t have? Of course. You can always say ‘I have this, but I don’t have that,’ but the fact is that we’re blessed to have these things that we do have. I will never complain about the things I don’t have. I know God has blessed me. There are guys I see on my team who go out and do the same things that I do and work just as hard as me, and their school is not paid for. So who am I to complain about the things I don’t have when I have teammates who go out here and sweat and bleed the same sweat and blood that I do, they’re not getting the things that I’m getting.”

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