The to-pay-or-not-to-pay college athletes discussion is old by this point, but it has evolved or mutated in a number of ways. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney had a strong opinion on this subject in 2014; an opinion that was highlighted on Last Week Tonight. Oh but there is so much more.
“But as far as paying players, professionalizing college athletics, that's where you lose me. I'll go do something else, because there's enough entitlement in this world as it is."
Naturally, he of course left his exceptionally lucrative coaching job on principle once his players were granted an ounce of what they’d earned. I’m just kidding, no he didn’t. Boy did he come up with a whole different not-at-all-recruiting-related opinion on the subject, though!
When Clemson begins school on Aug. 19, Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney’s players will receive their first stipend check toward the full cost of attendance — a hot-button issue that overwhelmingly passed NCAA legislation among the Power 5 conferences in January and integrated a new era of autonomy.
“I think it’s a great thing for our players, a really good step in the right direction there, kind of modernizing the scholarship and bridging that gap,” Swinney said at last week’s ACC Kickoff. “But I think there’s some problems with it. I think once we get into those things it will become more evident and hopefully we’ll get to a different spot somewhere down the road.”
"I mean, I just think that the intent is good because I think we're finally modernizing the scholarship to reflect 2015, and there's a lot of positives that are coming about, even last year, being able to actually feed our guys like we need to be able to feed them. I think that was a positive. They tried the stipend thing. It didn't go through. So basically this is the way that they're getting that done, but there's some unintended consequences, and there's no question it's not a level playing field, and it is going to be the No.1 topic at all the coaches' meetings because it's not good.
"I think, again, the intent is good, but for one school to be able to pay $3,000 or $4,000 more than another school, then at the end of the day, guys are going to make decisions for the wrong reasons, and it shouldn't be that way.
Look at that, we’re modernizing the scholarship! Dabo is no longer lost! Good for him; great to see him catch up.
Cost-of-attendance is not a problem because Swinney has to balance Clemson’s books or dock his own pay for these changes; it’s a problem because it might possibly complicate his recruiting, which might make his job more difficult. This is a millionaire complaining about how some poor dudes who bash their skulls in every week at his urging are causing problems for him.
Swinney is a standard result of the cynical football coaching assembly line that extends well into the closest foreseeable eternity. Not a damn thing off the field really matters so long as coach is doing a bunch of yelling on the field after his team has bravely forged a victory out of Incredible Football Adversity, and the key is preserving that status quo. God bless those dang kids.
Swinney, being spineless out of necessity and understandably invested in self-interest, will always bend whichever way is needed. Wouldn’t it be something if he could ever turn that around.