HOOVER, Ala. — Southeastern Conference players have mostly been content to let league administrators and coaches take up the drumbeat for NCAA reform — not that they’re complaining.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive has even said the Big Five conferences could break away from the NCAA if players aren’t compensated more fairly.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has advocated that players should be getting a bigger piece of college athletics’ substantial monetary pie for years.
Maybe the most ambivalent group in the whole process? The players.
“We’re not starving,” Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel said. “But at the end of the day, it would be nice to receive a little more compensation.”
The life of major college football players and coaches could change drastically once the NCAA and Big Five conferences are done revamping the system.
Players at SEC Media Days were mostly pleased about the trend toward more perks — including scholarships that would offer full cost of attendance — but also admit they’ve already got it pretty good. The fact that most of those upperclassmen might not be around to benefit might make it easier to downplay.
“I think that shouldn’t be a deterrent, the fact that it might not change while you’re here,” said Georgia receiver Chris Conley, a member of the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council.
“You’ve got to think about others. When you don’t think selfishly, you realize that the people behind you are going to have the same problems that you did, so you need to change those things.
“As long as the NCAA keeps evolving and growing, it can’t become stagnant, because the country is evolving and growing. As long as it keeps moving forward, that’s all we can ask.”
The NCAA’s board of directors will vote on the Big Five’s push for more autonomy in August, and if it’s approved a cascade of changes could come.
Slive said the first item on the agenda would be scholarships that included full cost of attendance, which would allow players more flexibility.
“There is some angst on the part of many, but I think many realize we’re moving into the 21st century, things are different and expectations of student-athletes are different,” Slive said.
Arkansas offensive lineman Brey Cook lives with his family in Fayetteville, so he can get home-cooked meals, free laundry and other comforts of home.
“But that’s not the case for most of the guys,” Cook said. “A lot of guys are from all over the country.”
Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III said players should get paid.
“I think we all do. I think it’s a job to play college football,” Hargreaves said. “But I can’t really concern myself with it because I can’t do anything about it.”