If you've listened to the Big 5 conference commissioners take their turns at the podium during the last two weeks of media days, you'd be well aware that the so-called haves are not happy about their inability to provide a stipend for their student-athletes. "If we have the money", so argue Mike Slive, Bob Bowlsby, John Swofford, Jim Delany and Larry Scott, "why can't we improve the lives of our student-athletes?"
Hold that thought. According to a list published by USA Today earlier this month, only 23 of the 228 Division I programs turned a profit (or, in non-profit terms, a budget surplus) during the 2011-12 fiscal year. They are: Texas, Texas A&M, Michigan, Ohio State, Arkansas, LSU, Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Washington, Auburn, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Kentucky, Purdue, Oregon, Florida State, Michigan State, Penn State, Tennessee, South Carolina and Indiana.
Power conference schools, brand-name programs, all of them. But, among the SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12 (plus Notre Dame), there are 75 schools. That list accounts for less than a third of them. The list also features exactly zero members of the Mountain West, MAC, Conference USA and Sun Belt conferences, much less the Football Championship Subdivision.
Presumably, the Big 5 programs could find the money to throw a couple thousand bucks at football players. Steve Spurrier even offered to fund the stipend program out of he and his staff's own pockets. (Show of hands, who's following suit?) But good luck opening that can of worms without paying the men's basketball team, the women's basketball team, the men's cross country team, the women's tennis team and so on. Title IX will have its say before a decision is rendered, if we ever even get to that point.
So, with all that in mind, anybody have any ideas how to solve this issue? No, seriously, can anyone out there figure this out?