No change to the collegiate sports business model is complete without talking to Dabo Swinney, he of this infamous 2014 quote regarding a push to form a union for college athletes: “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.”
Five years later, Dabo still pretty much feels that way.
“I’ve always said I’m against the professionalization of college athletics and the de-valuing of education,” Swinney told the Greenville News on Wednesday. “If we professionalize college, then I might as well coach the pros.”
Here’s the thing, there’s so much innuendo and so little hard-and-fast facts surrounding this issue that it can become hard to parse what exactly someone is saying. It seems by professionalization Dabo is referencing the NFL, where players negotiate their paycheck from their employers, which in this case would be the colleges. But no one else is really talking about that.
Dabo is firmly against the “professionalization” buzzword, but as for the other terms buzzing around the issue — “collegiate model,” “pay for play,” “tied to education” — well, Dabo’s all for it.
“I’ve always been for the value of an education and collegiate experience – nothing has changed. But I’ve always said I am 100 percent for ways to modernize the collegiate model, modernize the scholarship,” Swinney said. “I love the fact that we’ve got a stipend. Somebody said one time I was against the stipend. I’ve never been against the stipend. I think the stipend should have been more as a matter of fact.”
What is Dabo’s definition of “modernizing” the scholarship, and when does it cross into “professionalizing” college players? Great question. There doesn’t appear to be a hard-and-fast answer. But as long as any forthcoming name, image and likeness payments stay on the right side of the line, Dabo is all for it.