Posted by Bryan Fischer
Last week at Pac-12 Media Days, conference commissioner Larry Scott echoed the thoughts of many and said that college athletics was at a crossroads. The newest head coach in Scott's conference, Colorado's Jon Embree, agrees but he isn't just sitting back and lamenting at the state of the game, he's putting forward ideas.
For all the talk about paying players and full cost of attendance scholarships, Embree is advocating a different approach that takes elements from both. Instead of paying players directly, he argues, how about giving players $50,000 or so upon receiving a degree for them to either further their education or get started in life.
"I think they should be rewarded for graduating," Embree told CBSSports.com. "If we're going to use the term student-athlete, if we're going to be releasing graduation rates, if we're losing scholarships because of APR, then let's put our money where our mouth is. They don't do anything special for the kids when they win.
"To me, that graduation piece is best because they're earning something: a degree. You're helping them setup themselves for the future. In the NFL, they might get one year, two years or none. But that degree will be with them. Then you'll have a decent amount of money to get a head start on life."
Embree likes tying money to graduation as a way of incentivizing education for coaches, players and schools. A former tight end at Colorado, he knows the challenges players face more than most and recognizes that a scholarship doesn't cover all of a student-athlete's living expenses. While he is receptive to full cost of attendance scholarships, Embree is very much against giving players "spending money" on a weekly basis.
"A scholarship only covers so much," he said. "I don't believe you can pay the student-athletes a monthly stipend and keep it fair across the board. You start doing that, then one guy things he should get $300, another guy thinks it should be $500."
The concept of giving players money upon graduation is not a new one. Many have advanced the idea that those players who's jersey is sold (i.e. the ones the school is really making money off of) would receive a cut of the money upon graduation or leaving for the NFL. The idea of tying the money to something like jersey sales is a no-go for Embree however.
"No because what will happen is that they'll start selling jerseys in the book store that isn't a guy that's playing," he said. "They'd get around that. There's no doubt that college athletics is at a cross roads. A lot of money is made off these kids, me included. I don't know what all the answers are but they need some kind of equity. Just something."
Some food for thought for NCAA president Mark Emmert and 50 college presidents when they meet for a retreat on athletics later this month.