College football and basketball players make their schools a lot of money. At a place like Ohio State, that's irrefutable. Some athletes, like Cardale Jones, feel that the NCAA exploits it's athletes. The former Ohio State quarterback made his thoughts clear with a series of tweets Monday.
Friday a few former Ohio State players and a group sports law and business experts convened for panel put on by the Ohio State Sports and Society Initiative entitled Paying College Athletes. While the topic of whether or not college athletes should be paid and if so, how is a complicated ones the former Buckeyes participating -- a group that included former Ohio State and NBA player Lawrence Funderburke, former Buckeye defensive tackle John Holman, former women's basketball players Marscilla Packer and Kristin Watt, former Ohio State golfer Kelly Trent, Ohio State and NFL corner back Shawn Springs and former Buckeye running back Maurice Clarett -- had plenty to say on the topic.
The full discussion will be available on YouTube, but he are some general thoughts that the athletes presented.
Clarett, unsurprisingly, is for paying college athletes and was adamant that had he been more fairly compensated during his freshman season -- one that saw the Buckeyes win a national championship and the sale of No. 13 jerseys skyrocket -- his problems with the NCAA would never have materialized and the downward spiral that ended with a prison sentence likely would have been avoided.
Funderburke, meanwhile, was not for paying college athletes but rather focused on empowering the students with better health insurance and making sure that the athletes take advantage of the educational opportunity that is presented to them.
- “The problem is very few athletes take academics seriously, that’s the issue, " the three-time All-Big Ten player said. "It’s not about the next four years, it’s about the next 40 years.”
Springs landed closer to Funderburke's side of things, opting for a model that presents a stipend to all student-athletes (one larger than the current stipend) and allows for athletes to make money off of their likeness and speaking engagements, etc. that would be set aside for the athlete. The former corner back contended that paying the athletes in this way would allow them to more clearly focus on education as it would remove financial stress from the equation.
He also made it clear that while he would have appreciated some payment during his time at Ohio State, it wouldn't have changed why he played.
"I loved and was passionate about football and I felt that there was no brand bigger than the Ohio State brand," he said. "So I played because I loved the university and I played because of the tradition, the players that came before like my father Ron and Neal Colzie and Archie Griffin, you can go back 100 years of winning football here at Ohio State."
Watt presented an impassioned plea that the NCAA avoid replicating the professional model as there is something special about amateurism and echoed Funderburke's thoughts that refocusing on education was the key.
In all, the athletes presented many different points of view on a very complicated topic. The one thing that could be agreed upon was that the current structure of the NCAA at least needs to be tweaked.