Players Deserve Cut of the Take in College Sports

Article excerpt

Yes, those Florida State football players should have known better. But can we really blame them for cashing in when Lenny and Squiggy showed up with wads of money?

As you may have read, "Coach Nate" Cebrun and Raul Bey came to Tallahassee hoping to land some Seminoles for their half-baked merchandising scheme. The fact "Coach Nate" had paws, whiskers and a tail should have foreshadowed danger.

"You never hear about any of the major agents getting in the middle of something like that," said Mike Claiborne of St. Louis' Sports Management Group.

"You have to develop a trust with the guy. He has to feel comfortable with what's going on. If you break rules to get him, that guy has to think, `What rules is he going to break to keep me?' "

So how could these weasels woo the Seminoles? The players are just kids and Raul and "Coach Nate" offered them a chance to clean out a Foot Locker.

So they did.

By selling out, the players hurt their own image and, in the cases of underclassmen, imperiled their eligibility. They tainted FSU's national title and put it at risk. They also made life miserable for the legitimate agents who do a righteous job.

But the system is more to blame than the players. The Seminoles pump millions into the Florida State athletic budget during their playing days and get only scholarships, room and board in return.

Some of these players would have qualified for comprehensive financial aid anyway, so their gain for their pain is hardly equitable. College players should get paid, period.

"They should pay them something," Claiborne said. "The dollar amount, I don't know." He suggests athletic programs could set up a trust fund the players could later tap to continue their education or get started in their careers.

"At least there would be some money coming in for him," Claiborne said. "It's not like they can't afford it. If they have a (football) playoff system, that might take care of it for most of the schools."

A fair number of these players aren't backed by checking accounts set up by their families. Free-spending boosters are harder to find given the recent impact of NCAA investigations. …

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