FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Before they tackle trying to win the BCS championship Monday night, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and Alabama coach Nick Saban were asked to tackle another issue during their Sunday news conferences – finding a way to pay college athletes.
"I don't know the solution of how it gets done or what it should be, but I do think that something should be done to enhance the quality of life of student-athletes that are on scholarship, because in our sport especially, there is socioeconomic groups that struggle a little bit, even with a scholarship, because there is a cost associated with going to college that is beyond room, board, tuition and books," Saban said. "And I think especially where we've sort of gotten to from a business perspective relative to the financial end of things that there isn't really any good reason that the student-athletes who create that should not share in that to some degree.
"And I think there's a lot better people to determine how and what that really should be, but I do think we should move in that direction to help student-athletes."
Kelly echoed Saban's sentiments that athletes should have a way to secure a little more money to be able to enjoy their college experiences a little more.
"I still think the overriding factor here is that these young men put in so much time with being a student and then their responsibilities playing the sport, that they don't have an opportunity to make any money at all, to get a part-time job," Kelly said. "I know when I played, I worked in security and I washed dishes, anything that I could do to put a little money in my pocket so I could go to the movies or get a pizza.
"That's really what we're talking (about). We're not talking about paying players. We're talking about let them be college students, and a stipend to me makes total sense, and allowing them, because of all the time that they put in. People would say, 'Well, they get their scholarship.' We understand that. But going out on the weekend -- I want them to be college kids, and a stipend will continue to allow them to be college kids. That's my opinion."
Figuring out the logistics of giving student-athletes a stipend is not easy though, according to Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick.
"I encourage any of you to spend 90 minutes with a financial aid advisor at a university and have them explain to you how all of this stuff works," Swarbrick said. "I had no idea, and I thought I understood it. … It is very complicated stuff.
"I think there is emerging commonality on the intent. It's not for want of trying we haven't found the right formula yet."