College football's pay-for-play debate 

July, 12, 2011

I chatted with ESPN analyst Rod Gilmore on Tuesday about pay-for-play issues in college football. Here's the full transcript of our chat:

Bruce Feldman: One of my frustrations whenever this subject comes up is that a lot of people approach it in one of two ways. Some say that yes, players deserve to be paid because it isn't right that they aren't, but those people don't have any sense of the logistics behind what they're green-lighting. Then there's the other side that comes out and says, "No, we can't have this, and here's why ..." and they bring up some very valid points with Title IX and other issues, but it's basically dismissed immediately as "discussion over."

Where do you stand on this topic?

Rod Gilmore: It shouldn't be as polarizing as it is. I do think that there ought to be a more thoughtful approach to actually laying out the issues and concerns and then talking them through. One concern that the NCAA and conferences have talked about is that they don't want to pay players and make them "employees" because they're afraid of all the legal ramifications. How do you deal with whether they're entitled to certain medical benefits and organizing and all of the other things that come with having employees? They don't want to get into that area.

The other thing that they bring up a lot is how to keep the competitive balance. I think both of those issues are things you can find solutions to, but people have to really sit down and talk them through about whether they are real legitimate barriers or not.

BF: I did a Q&A with Myron Rolle a few months ago about this, and he explained why he believed student-athletes should be paid. I noticed that in the comments section beneath the entry that while many people respected him and what he accomplished, they disagreed and many talked about "Well, they're already getting a free education," and "I worked my way though school," etc. Do you think that's an ideal perspective on it?