Don't Kill the Mellinger

Columnist Sam Mellinger's thoughts on sports and other important stuff

A coach (sort of) volunteers a paycut, which should tell you a lot about college sports

04/07/2014 7:55 AM

04/07/2014 9:57 AM

The coach was saying that college athletes in the sports and programs that produce revenue should receive more than a scholarship.

He swore he believed this, that as many opportunities are given to scholarship athletes — exposure, no debt, tutors — an industry with enough money to pay coaches millions while the talent is prohibited from getting much more than room and board just didn’t feel right.

I figured I’d test him.

That means you and other coaches might not make as much, I said. You’d take a pay cut for this?

"Listen," he said. "I’m thrilled to make the money I make, and that’s the market, and that’s good for my family. But let me tell you a secret. You could cap college coaches’ salaries at $250,000 and you’d still have the same talent pool working just as hard."

The coach may have been exaggerating to make a point. Maybe the number is $500,000. Or a million. Maybe two. Whatever. Point is, there is more money in college sports than college sports knows what to do with.

All of this comes to mind after

the weekend column on fixing college sports


Already, I’ve heard from a lot of you — fans of college sports, haters of college sports, people who work in college sports — with a lot of great ideas and insight.

Unionizing isn’t the answer, and neither is a straight-up, simple-on-the-surface-but-impossible-in-the-real-world model where college athletes would get salaries.

I’m not sure exactly when we got to this point, but we are here, at the time in history when most everyone agrees that college sports are broken and need fixed. The proposals in the column are fairly modest, and are presented with the help of a dozen or so athletic directors, coaches, athletes, and others who live inside the machine.

The archaic rules of college sports were written in a time where nobody could imagine there ever being so much money involved that coaches and even some administrators are millionaires, schools would build

$17 million apartment complexes for basketball teams, or need $200 million in facilities upgrades

after switching conferences.

Anyway, I do hope you

read the column. Change is coming. It’s only a matter of what that change will look like. My best guess, made with the help of people who live it, is in the column.

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