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Posted on Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 4:41 p.m.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon says paying student-athletes is 'absurd'

By Nick Baumgardner

NOVI — Dave Brandon isn’t just against paying student-athletes, he finds the whole idea "absurd."

While serving as a co-guest speaker Monday at the Marketing and Sales Executives of Detroit’s summer luncheon in Novi, Michigan’s second-year athletic director got right to the point when asked his thoughts on the pay for play debate.

“I’m flatly opposed to this notion of paying student-athletes,” Brandon said. “I don’t think you could possibly coach a team where part of them are being compensated and part of them are not.

“Once you start paying them as if they were employees, then you’re going to be 1099ing these folks, bringing in accountants and lawyers to work through tax issues which leads to contract negotiations and probably even a union. It’s just absurd.”

Thumbnail image for David-Brandon-010710.jpg

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon.

Brandon -- who was joined by Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis for a joint-presentation on the business of branding college athletics -- explained that paying student-athletes for their services not only goes against the fundamental notion of college athletics, but also makes little business sense.

Not only for the university, but for athletes in general.

“I just think it’s nonsense,” he added. “There’s a certain constituency out there, (who are not) necessarily involved in athletic administration or coaching, who kind of want to propagate this notion that there are certain young people out there that have commercial appeal and they should be able to cash in on that commerciality during their college careers.

“And I think it’s just nonsense. “

Last month, Brandon explained at a golf outing in Bath that he has no issue with allowing a “cost of education” stipend for student-athletes to help assist with various aspects of college life that aren’t covered by a scholarship.

Brandon said he felt there are “adjustments” that can be made to keep players away from the dangers that can often be linked with rogue boosters or agents.

But that, he said, is a different topic altogether.

“We have 825 student-athletes, and with the exception of maybe a handful -- they don’t have any commerciality to them whatsoever,” he said. “Most of them come to campus, want to compete, get a degree and proudly display the fact that they are a student-athlete at their university and that’s why they’re there.

“You have a few young people who have reached the status where they have some commercial appeal -- and you know what, they can wait a year or two and cash in on that when they leave.”

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Fri, Aug 26, 2011 : 7:47 p.m.

They get housing, food and a fine education. They are also receiving the coaching that can make them even more talented than they started with at the beginning of their education. You get all this. All you have to do is keep your nose clean. Gee, I wish I would have had that opportunity.


Thu, Aug 25, 2011 : 1:42 p.m.

@EMG "In sum, I think the NCAA must do one of two things: either 1) recognize their basketball and football programs for what they are, which is a minor league training program for the NFL and NBA, and to therefore treat them as such, or 2) go back to a focus on the scholar-athlete. The latter would mean that a lot of potential NFL/NBA athletes will never see the inside of a university, and that's fine. Let those two leagues establish some sort of minor league system--as baseball and hockey have--that develops talent not yet ready for prime time but not really ready for academics at universities, either." "Both baseball and hockey have the dual-track--and worth noting there are far fewer scandals in those sports." "Time for FB and BB to have the same." This is the best comment I've ever read on Good Stuff

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

For those of you who insist that the "free" education is adequate compensation for these athletes, surely you would support these basic reforms: 1) No freshman eligibility in any sport. They can practice. That's it. Give them a year to get firmly grounded academically and otherwise in a university setting. Four years of eligibility after that first year. 2) Drastically increase academic minimums for incoming scholarship athletes to insure they are prepared for the academic rigors of academic life. 3) Institute an 8-year rule for scholarships: Once a scholarship is granted it is gone until that player graduates from the granting institution or for 8 years, whichever comes first. Such a system would penalize programs that recruit athletes who have neither the inclination nor the ability to complete an academic program. In other words, it would reward programs that actually recruit the mythic student-athlete. These three rules would re-focus athletic programs on academics, though it would mean that many good athletes would never set foot on a college campus. If you're not willing to see rules such as these put in place, you're not really serious about the "free" education being a proper compensation for these athletes. Good Night and Good Luck

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

Eyeheart: Thanks for the kind words. You are correct that the above are about rooting out abuses rather than paying athletes, but it is a logical set of reforms if we want to insist that these athletes really are students and that their appropriate "compensation" is the education they receive. As for the free market, I think your caveat is the key point: there is no competition for the NCAA, and it is hard to imagine how one might go about starting a competitor. In sum, I think the NCAA must do one of two things: either 1) recognize their basketball and football programs for what they are, which is a minor league training program for the NFL and NBA, and to therefore treat them as such, or 2) go back to a focus on the scholar-athlete. The latter would mean that a lot of potential NFL/NBA athletes will never see the inside of a university, and that's fine. Let those two leagues establish some sort of minor league system--as baseball and hockey have--that develops talent not yet ready for prime time but not really ready for academics at universities, either. Both baseball and hockey have the dual-track--and worth noting there are far fewer scandals in those sports. Time for FB and BB to have the same. Good Night and Good Luck


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 2:47 p.m.

While these are interesting reforms, most seemed aimed more at rooting out abuses, rather than properly compensating athletes. I believe "reform" number one was the subject of a movie called "Marshall" or something like that. Reforms numbered 2 and 3 are certainly something I could get behind, but nobody ever asked me (until now, thank you, Ghost). My thought would be to allow the NFL to draft anyone any time after High School. Then, if these guys are worth it, they could go there. Or NFL Europe. So, at that point, if they don't want the league that compensates with education, they can go to the one that compensates with money. There are a lot of comparisons to "Farm Leagues". I don't think any mud hens are getting rich. In terms of football, there are semi-pro, arena football and all that. These players are also free to go there, they are choosing not to. A football league is free (possibly within the bounds of anti-trust, unless you happend to be baseball) to make up any set of rules they want. If the players don't like it, they are free to switch leagues. If the NCAA football league has a set of rules that some people disagree with, they are free not to participate. If I don't like Dominoes pizza, I am fee to buy Jets.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

Thank you Dave Brandon for speaking up in defense of a system that makes billions of dollars for its member institutions off the backs of athletes that that system keeps in virtual peonage, many of whom are neither intellectually nor psychologically prepared for the education that gets proffered up as being appropriate "compensation" for their labors (Maurice Clarrett and Boubacar Cissoko being great shining examples--but there are many others). Good Night and Good Luck

Lorain Steelmen

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 7:09 p.m.

Thank you Dave Brandon for speaking up in defense of the college system. These kids are receiving a UM education. If that is 'NOT ENOUGH', then they should pack their bags and get out of town. There is no 'travesty' here, since football must support ALL the unversity's 'nonrevenue' sports. Brandon's concern for the 'Michigan brand', is nothing more than his trying to build a strong revenue stream, so that ALL student atheletes can participate in their respective sports. No body's 'getting rich' at their expense. Frankly, such comments are absurd, and are getting tedeous. Voices in the community, that suggest otherwise have alterior motives, and are only using this a ruse to hide 'their real agrenda'.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

"No body's [sic] 'getting rich' at their expense. " Last time I checked Hoke is getting $4 million/year and the DC and AC are getting a cool $500K per year. Sounds like someone is getting rich on the backs of these athletes. Good Night and Good Luck

Rork Kuick

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 8:35 p.m.

"No body's 'getting rich' at their expense." Many folks have jobs that pay money here that would not exist without the athletes. From what I read here, some of the coaches and directors are getting rich, and the university makes big bucks from football. So I didn't follow what was absurd about it. Sorry for being tedious about wanting clarity. Maybe you have an agenda too. Big time college sports might crumble. It's true I might find that an improvement.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 7:45 p.m.

Buy why should nonrevenue sports be supported at the absurd levels they are? Why does U-M have a dedicated facility for field hockey, with artificial turf and brick grandstands? A soccer stadium? Separate facilities for men and women's gymastics? An indoor track? A driving range that, unlike the golf course, is reserved exclusively for the use of the 24 members of the varsity golf teams? And why even offer scholarships for non-revenue sports in the first place? It used to be that a univeristy had gynasiums and sports fields that were shared by multiple sports, as well as intramural and recreational use. Now, each sport has to get its own dedicated facility that is off-limits to the general student population in most cases. It's absolutely ridiculous.

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 4:54 p.m.

How many "student athletes" actually would qualify as "students" if the same criteria was used to determine their worth as students as seems to be used to determine their worth as "athletes"? If they fail the test as students, they should be turned lose to find work on some athletic team and save the university some money. If they only come to the University to play, they have to accept the system as it is. Congratulations to Brandon for keeping the pay out of play.

Seasoned Cit

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 3:57 p.m.

Start paying players and then the IRS will really move in to get a piece of the action. Don't you think they are drooling over potential income they would have if they tighten up what's considered tax deductible when it comes to donations to the Athletic Program ? How can anyone honestly say that 80% of a seat tax at Michigan Stadium is supporting education and thus tax deductible ? It's a joke and just another way that our Universities have been getting a free ride always asking for more than inflation.. raising tuition.. and paying faculty 6 figures while giving them 20% of their time to consult. Oh yes and maybe teach 4-5 hours a week.. Where's the shared sacrifice in Higher Education ?

Rob Pollard

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 3:05 p.m.

I love the hypocrisy of Dave &quot;build the brand&quot; Brandon railing against the &quot;nonsense&quot; of paying student athletes. He just wants to keep the money for himself and his fellow mgmt types. Once again, South Park puts the proper satirical spin on this issue (link is SFW, <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> These schools are making serious money in men's bball and football, WAY more than those students get in scholarships and support. Just last year the NCAA signed a $10.8 billion (with a 'b') deal for the men's NCAA bball tournament to televise it from 2011 to 2024. That's outside of the deals for televising the regular season (e.g. the Big 10 gets over $100 million a year for men's bball, <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. More of that money should go to the &quot;student athletes,&quot; i.e., the ones who are the ones earning it. Go sell some more throwback jerseys or some Arby's curly fries, Dave. It's for the kids.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 2:22 p.m.

Come on Dave, at least give the players free pizza once a week. This issue is not going to go away by Dave Brandon dismissing it as if it's an absurd issue. My opinion is that going back several years up to now this issue is getting a stronger bite and more media attention with each passing year. It's my opinion that at some point in the not to distant future there will have to be some sort of compromise. The money changing hands with ticket and product sales and the millions being given colleges for TV coverage is such a large, vast some of money that this issue is rapidly moving to the forefront and getting more and more TV coverage as an issue that is not going to go away. Good luck Dave tryingt to sweep this issue under the carpet.

Rork Kuick

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

&quot;nonsense&quot; and &quot;absurd&quot; but the writer did not include enough answers to the questions about why, perhaps cause all Brandon had was that it'll get complicated, and perhaps uncomfortable for the schools. I'm in the Frank DeFord camp too. Let each school make their offer and let the student decide what they will do, without all the gaming around some utterly artificial rules. What's really absurd is a system designed to encourage corruption. Can anyone point to where any of our local sportswriters actually have detailed opinions about these matters, or cover aspects of the other side of the story. **crickets**


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 1:29 p.m.

Any sport that produces revenue for the U should pay those that produce the revenue. If pro sports want trained athletes THEY should start or expand farm teams. The only sports at colleges should probably be like club teams, intramural after class fun. If a person wants to train to be a pro athlete, they should go through a farm system. If they want to earn a degree they could use the money from the farm team to pay for education.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 12:46 p.m.

Michigan probably wants to go back to leather helmets too, LOL!


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 12:42 p.m.

I'm all for a menial wage, but tie it to behavior. The NFL has to step in here. I say, pay ALL the student athletes a few thousand a year, but if they break NCAA rules; they forfeit their opportunity to enter into drafts, say for four years. That would stop all this garbage, that happened at OSU or even MIami


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 5:02 p.m.

Could be the first time I've ever agreed (at least partly) with something you wrote here! :-D


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 12:16 p.m.

Does anyone else think its absurd that coaches make 10 times the salaries of college presidents and deans of medical schools? Does anyone else think its absurd that each weekend, UM brings in about 6 million dollars in revenue from home football games. And right after the game, the players get a card that allows them a dinner at SUBWAY or JIMMY JOHNS? Get rid of this notion that college athletes are amateurs. And please don't tell me about the great education they are getting for &quot;free&quot;. They work like mules for that education. And let's talk about that &quot;education&quot;. How many football players at Michigan have a major outside of Kinesiology? Or General Studies? What is absurd is the hypocrisy.

Steve Hendel

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 10:48 a.m.

No, Mr Brandon, &quot;absurd&quot; is paying RichRod $2.5 million a year and then paying $4.0 million to settle the WVU lawsuit against him and then paying him an additional $2.5 million to go awY.

David Briegel

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 2:04 a.m.

Thank you Bill Martin! And for desecrating the house that Yost built!


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

Can I vote 10 times for this comment?

Erica Hobbs

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 10:16 a.m.

I'm sorry, I thought universities were about education, my mistake, apparently the fact that there is even a discussion as to whether players should be paid seems to suggest otherwise. You want to be paid? Skip college, go straight to the pros.

5c0++ H4d13y

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 1:23 p.m.

It stopped being about education when the university signed lucrative contracts based on what happens on the field and the court. Is the university going to skip the money they make off the athletes? Limiting the compensation to the athletes is unethical when the university is signing the most lucrative contracts they can.

Jon Saalberg

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 3:56 a.m.

Sorry, I do not agree with Brandon at all on this issue - I'm more in the Frank DeFord camp: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> I cannot see where it's reasonable to pay football coaches millions of dollars. They do not do anything that is necessary for the continuance of our existence, don't save lives, don't fight fires, etc. They are people who facilitate the entertainment that is college football. It seems fairly clear that, judging by the amount they are paid, even here at our esteemed hometown institution, the most important person of worth at the U of M is not a professor, or a doctor or a researcher - it's the football coach. This whole thing is merely the perpetuation of an absurdity - saying that players shouldn't be paid because of some deluded belief that a scholarship will stand in for the millions of dollars in revenues their skills bring to a university is ridiculous. Many players, in fact most, do not go on to star in the NFL. Many are injured while playing college football, meaning they never have the opportunity to earn the millions their coach earns, who, as far as I've seen, never gets out on the field, risking life and limb to entertaining the roaring student body and alumni.

Rork Kuick

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.

Jon: best comment. Tru: We wouldn't pay coaches big bucks or spend millions on facilities if it was just to coach and teach and mentor about 120 young men . Don't ya think it might be about the money? If football programs elsewhere don't make enough money to support their own programs then we can conclude they won't be paying as much - so what?


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 5:43 p.m.

Tru2Blu - earning millions as a college football coach is an opportunity open to the middle class, but becoming a college professor is not? You must also think the NBA is a genuine opportunity for inner city youth who could never aspire to being doctors or engineers. U-M has one head football coach and hundreds of tenured professors, most of whom came from middle class background. You tell me which is more achieveable.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 5:53 a.m.

You seem to be entirely unaware that paying higher level personnel (in business and in most areas) much higher &quot;wages&quot; is standard practice. What's relevant in this case is that the highest paid upper level &quot;officer&quot; in this case happens to coach and teach and mentor about 120 young men who otherwise would be out on the street doing what &quot;unemployable&quot; young men DO to others. And the other thing which you obviously don't like is that the head coach is a kind of entertainment king pin - and those people commonly make six-figure incomes. The importance if mentoring Michigan football players has it's own temple of worship - founded on the testimonies of hundreds of successful men who are also willing to hold themselves accountable, to be good husbands, fathers and community contributors. Quite of few - never made it into professional football but &quot;somehow&quot; snagged careers that made them rich. I've lived in this town near 40 years: I've met and got to know a lot of professors from U of M. Some - honestly - shouldn't be paid more than half what they're getting. And neither their intellectual or ethical standards are up to Coach Hoke's. I think that 'ordinary guys' like Brady Hoke getting a couple mill a year is just great. The Middle Class has access to such opportunities, but they cannot achieve professorships. Hope - I think that's essential to avoid class stratification like professors have. Oh, and football programs across the country DO NOT bring in enough money to support even their own program. U of M football is an exception, not the rule.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 3:14 a.m.

Make the NFL and NBA start up minor leagues to groom their prospects like hockey and baseball have instead of putting it on the taxpayers and students. Let the college players go back to be actual &quot;student athletes&quot; who's only rewards are memories and bragging rights. If you're coming to UM to get an Escalade or diamond studs in your ears until you can go to the pro draft rather than for a degree you're here for the wrong reasons. How I see it.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 3:14 a.m.

Brandon makes one unassailable point: if colleges start paying (&quot;big sport&quot;) athletes, then the lawyers and agents and tax red tape pop up and make the whole situation uncontrollable - and probably unsupportable. It's a joke to talk about ethics and &quot;reason&quot; in that context. The Romans had their gladiatorial spectacles for about 800 years - it was corrupt, unjust and deadly for many participants. The main &quot;benefits&quot; were that it gave the civilians something to get excited about and gave the Roman courts something to do with their convicts. Anyone who thinks we aren't doing the same kind of thing with football is kidding themselves. Football is intrenched because we made it so. Fans - made this sport under this system (both college and professional). If you think college admins aren't educated about this, then you're a fool. We're just lucky the college admins have catered to us while keeping football a non-lethal spectator sport with at least some chance of great advancement for a few participants. We are all just fans (short for &quot;fanatics&quot;). The U of M just put the finishing touches on the biggest, best colosseum in the United States. Be grateful. The athletes should be grateful too: prestige school, great and lasting tradition, the possibility of becoming a millionaire a month after leaving. Oh, and anyone thinking all these athletes don't get a &quot;real&quot; education better check on the salary range for sports commentators, gym operators, product endorsements, etc. All hail to Claudius Maximus Hoke!


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 1:42 a.m.

IF this were to ever happen (which I'm not really a fan of), the money would HAVE to come from the NCAA and not from the universities' athletic departments. Granted this article I'm referencing is a few years old, but the number of athletic departments that are in the black is startlingly low. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> It's my opinion that the problem lies with the current rules in place by the NCAA about &quot;gifts&quot;. Clearly the rules need to be there, but I hope they're modified to more realistically fit a reasonable college lifestyle.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 1:24 a.m.

Wow, when did we get a bunch of socialists minded people to hi-jack this site/thread? Give me a break! How in the Heck do you think things like scholarships can be paid for in the 1st place if an institution doesn't make any darn money, I'm trying to keep it clean and hopefully not violate the comment restrictions. You know going to college entails bettering your self so that you can MAKE MORE MONEY! If someone out there is savvy enough and they want to start some sort of Minor League that can be competitive enough looking that the NFL decides to start drafting players from that League and high school players can go there and skip going to college altogether, than go for it, who's stopping anyone, really. I bet most kids decide on college if they really had a choice between the two. And UofMbeworser, don't you have anything better to do, don't you have a team you can go root for? And BTW, it's spelled &quot;sayin&quot;, but hey, I'm just sayin'!


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 5:23 p.m.

Oh - so those who believe people should be able to earn what their skills entitle them to are socialists? What a perfect illustration of the right-wing worldview - free enterprise and capitalism are only for those who control the institutions of commerce, and not those whose skills are necessary for them to function. Actually, socialism would be using revenues generated by football and basketball to provide scholarships for soccer and volleyball players. No one's saying the university can't make money off revenue sports, just that they ought to share a piece of the pie with the players who make it all possible - many of whose contributions are worth considerably more than the scholarships they receive.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.

If you pay them how much is enough ? Will the boosters add a free car to the pot? I do think however, that perhaps you could offer them a free graduate program if they get badly injured.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 1:05 a.m.

It's all about the brand for Dave Brandon. It will be very interesting to see how his decisions play out in the future. My guess is that he will be gone from his UM dream job within five years


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:53 p.m.

I can understand why Brandon would say that paying college athletes is absurd. I bet if those same athletes slap a boycott on his program he would change his tune in a new york minutes. Right now, he feels that he has the upper hand and can make this type of &quot;absurd&quot; statement without any consequences. Mr. Brandon, I hope that you enjoy your stint as AD at UM because the day will come when the athletes will rebel. Until then, play to your base.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:48 p.m.

Additionally, and on a more serious note, football players don't get real degrees. I just took a look at the 2010 spring media guide, and in the first section of &quot;Meet the Wolverines&quot; page 3-36, not one single player who declared a major was in a Business, Legal, or medical major. ALL were either LSA General studies (And i use the word Studies Sparingly) or enrolled in the School of Kinesiology, which is a fancy way to say Gym Teacher....... When these guys get out of school, they will be completely unable to find a job, Michigan on their diploma or not. Think about where you work, how could you find a 40-50K a year job for someone with one of these majors on their resume? DoubleyaDoubleyaDoubleya dot mgoblue dot com/sports/m-footbl/archive/spring-guide-2010.html

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

@genetracy: when was the last time you strapped on a football helmet and played a game of football at any level? Good Night and Good Luck


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

@janawritesalot: Don't waste you time, energy or wisdom responding to a troll.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 12:49 p.m.

The School of Kinesiology isn't a fancy way to say gym teacher. A majority of its students study sports management, which is essentially a business curriculum with coursework specific to the pro athletics business. If they weren't earning a valuable degree, the Ross School of Business wouldn't have agreed to a dual degree program. Kinesiology also offers majors in movement science, athletic training, and, yes, physical education. This school's graduates go on to become coaches, athletic directors, agents, sports marketing professionals, advertising executives, physical therapists, research scientists, and the physical education teachers that you scoff at. Kines students have to apply their sophomore year for admission into the upper level of the program. So advancing through kinesiology means you maintained a B average or better in econ, accounting, English, biology, and algebra, at the very least. Just sticking up for my school... and the many athletes who studied with me and did not fit the dumb jock stereotype.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 4:43 a.m.

By the way, Terry, what years did you play for Michigan?

Terry Star21

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 4:34 a.m.

Could be worse, check out the ohio state buckeyes guide, i.e. majors in truck driving, bar ownership, tatoo parlorship, used ring/hardware marketing, psychology major in distorting/lying/cheating. Very sad.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 2:19 a.m.

You mention teaching gym as if it doesn't require a &quot;real&quot; degree... I think you might be surprised upon doing a little digging into what's required of someone to become a certified PE teacher.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 12:12 a.m.

They ran the whole roster, eh? More likely, they listed certain standout players and a number of others who are doing well today - that's how those types of stories work. Unless someone is a very prominent player, they don't say &quot;so-and-so is a janitor...&quot;

1st Down

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:53 p.m.

LOL whatever. Keep showing your ignorance Ohio Sparty. Last year, the Det News ran an article on what the 1997 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP team was up to... nearly ALL of them (who were not still on NFL rosters) were involved in IMPRESSIVE occupations... certainly more impressive than yours foo.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:37 p.m.

It's no more ridiculous than paying a college football coach $3 million a year - or $625,000 to an athletic director. Considering the revenue they generate for the university, elite football and basketball players are grossly underpaid. In what other field do performers who generate so much return for their employers earn only $45,000 a year, the approx. cost of a U-M education? And while a college degree has great value, the vast majority of these players will never be as exceptional in their new careers as they are on the football field - this is the one time in their life when they will truly be among the elite. Even for the good players, most will not go on to the NFL or will have very short, low-end careers there. They can't sell their services to the highest bidder, because the NCAA prohibits all member schools from offering compensation. And again, few can sell their services to the NFL - college football is the market where they have value. It's ironic that the same people who are dead-set against paying college football players tend to be the same ones who most loudly sing the praises of capitalism and free markets - or is it that some markets are more free than others?


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 4:13 p.m.

Steve - I guess I'd ask why do we give scholarships to non-revenue sports in the first place? Why shouldn't those funds be used for academic scholarships? After all, that's what colleges are for - sports is supposed to be a sideline. If anything, I'd say your son is taking money from the revenue-generating athletes - not the other way around. It's absolutely ridiculous that U-M is pouring money into things like a field hockey facility with artificial turf and a brick grandstand, or a golf practice facilty whose use is restricted to the 24 members of the varsity golf teams and visiting clubs (oh, and paying clients of the golf coaches). Title IX has done a lot for women's athletics, but it needs to be overhauled to address the reality that revenue sports are a different animal. Revenues from football and basketball should benefit the academic functions of the university and not be used to provide gold-plated athletic experiences for soccer players and others.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 12:49 p.m.

What happens if that 5 star player never pans out? Would this money be guaranteed or would that athlete lose the benefit? Also, there is something called title nine which states that female and male athletes must be treated equally (federal law). Finally, as the father of a partial scholarship UM athlete in a non-revenue sport I appreciate that Mr. Brandon is not advocating taking revenue from my son to give additional money to players who are already getting everything paid. Unlike them, my son must earn his athletic money by achieving as a Michigan Athlete.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:24 p.m.

Evidently, Jim Tressel and Gordon Gee disagree. They were willing to put their money where there mouth is too. Stand up guys, those two.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 1:36 a.m.

that's odd, i read on that there internets there that clinton is what done it.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:13 p.m.

For the record, he was against paying his pizza makers as well......... He payed them the minimum amount allowed by law, which means to me if he could have gotten away with paying them less, he would have been all over it. by the way, Dominoes pizza went from the Premier pizza franchise in the world to totally smashed under the watchful eye of David Brandon........ Just sayen


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 3:24 p.m.

wrong, meaning: not true at all.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 3:22 p.m.



Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:10 p.m.

Some student athletes are paid. It's called a scholarship! Others participate in their sports for the pure joy of competing. I say good for them!

David Briegel

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:03 p.m.

MichFanTex, OK, Cam Newton got a quarter million up front and who knows how much more. What do you think Denard would be worth? He'd probably make that much from his #16 jersey sales! David Vande Bunte, I think he might be able to afford Mich and whatever school he wanted! Take away some of those silly NCAA rules and see what the athletes are worth. An empty Mich Stadium would drive up the prices significantly. I'd wager that revenues were down somewhat these last 3 yrs. And Hammer, Michigan is stocked with plenty of students who have Escalades and diamonds in not only their ears but their belly buttons and elsewhere! Many of our athletes come from poor homes who could never afford such luxuries. There are dozens of anecdotes. They see the big bucks the U makes from their blood, sweat and tears. And I agree with Theo. Just look around in our society and see the cheaters who are so richly rewarded. Look no further than the Wall St criminal casino! Do you really believe that Madolf was the only crook??


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11 p.m.

I agree with Mr. Brandon - to a point. If the player can't cash on his/her &quot;commerciality&quot; then neither should the University. If the University (or NCAA) makes revenue using a players name or likeness, then the proceeds should be held in escrow until the player's eligibility expires and the player should then receive that revenue.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 10:44 p.m.

We should have started paying our players right after our hero Bo retired, just like everyone else did. But we foolishly did things the &quot;honest&quot; way and paid the price for it by not getting any Crystal-winning athletes. It's all about The Crystal. Now, all teams who have won The Crystal in the last 15 years have done so by paying their players. Some have already been caught, some will eventually be caught, and some will never be caught. If we would have been smart and paid our players, I guarantee we would have fallen into the latter group, since This Is Michigan and we are much more intelligent than those cheating southern (Ohio included) schools. We would have had multiple Crystals and been none the wiser. The best teams will continue to cheat and win big. Until we join them, we'll always be on the outside looking in.

David Vande Bunte

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 3:29 p.m.

One teeny, tiny problem there, Theo. Lloyd did win the Crystal, AFTER Bo retired. No &quot;Crystal winning athletes&quot;? Really? So, the fact that Tom Brady is arguably the best QB in the NFL, (also a member of that NC team) Charles Woodson won a Heisman, NFL Defensive Player of the Year and is a 7x Pro Bowler, Then you have Steve Hutchinson, who is probably the single best OL in the NFL, Jon Jansen who had a pretty good NFL career too, and that excludes the other 27 members of that team who went on to play in the NFL.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 10:54 p.m.

sad but true theo! sad but true!


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 10:14 p.m.

It's funny that Dave Brandon, more than any AD I can remember at any school, ever, is about &quot;marketing the brand&quot;... i.e. making as much money as possible. Yet he is fine with handcuffing athletes in a way no other scholorship student has to live with.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:05 p.m.

The big problem is the NCAA is effectively the minor league for the NFL and NBA. There are many athletes who do not care to be students and are effectively handcuffed into a charade. The NCAA makes a lot of money on the deal. The NFL and NBA save a lot of money as most players never make it and they don't have to deal with employees, unions, etc. The student-athletes get their education. The 'other' athletes get the short end of the stick.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 10:36 p.m.

Again, athletes are free to market their skills with whomever. Nobody is stopping anybody from going professional. Perhaps the NFL is an exception and if a young lad of 17 or 18 wishes to sue the NFL so he too can be included in the annual draft, he's free to do that as well.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 10:13 p.m.

Simply put, I agree completely! A 4 year scholarship at a great and powerful school like the U-M is an honor and a privilege. Most students when graduating take years to pay off their tuition, yet these scholarship athletes get a full ride. So give me a break with this talk of paying some athletes, they already are getting paid in a sense.

5c0++ H4d13y

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 9:39 p.m.

I'll agree it's absurd as soon as the university gives up the 10s of millions it gets for athletics from donors and marketing contracts.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

There are other leagues they could choose to play in until they are eligible for the NFL draft. It is their choice to play in college. Each athlete must decide if the visibility they receive in college football is worth the financial sacrifice. If not, go to one of the semi-pro teams.

5c0++ H4d13y

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 1:49 a.m.

No they are not. NLF has rules that make some players ineligible. What other industry gets away with that?


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 10:21 p.m.

Athletes are free to market their skills straight to the professional ranks.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 9:38 p.m.

Cheers to Dave Brandon!!! I was a D1 athlete in a &quot;non-revenue&quot; sport. Not only did I have to pay for much of my school, I figured out how to pay for pizza and beer on a weekly basis. The football and basketball players aren't looking for money to go to the movies. They want Escalades and diamonds in their ears.

Rob Pollard

Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 5:48 p.m.

So what if they do? That's the whole point. They're the ones who play the sports that are earning the school tens of millions of dollars every year. NCCA Football and men's basketball are at the point the Olympics were in the 70s/80s when they clung on to the fig leaf of a higher mission and amateurism (for the players, course), while the administrators, coaches and TV execs raked in increasingly huge amounts of cash. Pretty soon, more of those billions of dollars will need to flow to the people actually earning it.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 9:37 p.m.

America is built of, what is it, a thing called a Free Market. I get that shoved down my throat when talking about foreign cars (a global market isn't a free market, by the way...). So, why are so many people trying to tell college kids that &quot;Hey, what you get is good enough.&quot; As in, be happy with your bagels and an education (now with peanut butter on top - whoopee!!!). If the college kids have no value, then the market will pay them such. But, I think Brandon's fear is that the market will pay them more than an Athletic director!

Terrin Bell

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 2:48 a.m.

Did you even read what Brandon said? He didn't deny some students have commercial value. He just said that paying them would create significant problems that would undermine the overall purpose of the University Sports. They guy is a multi-millionaire, I highly doubt he is concerned about somebody making more them him. If money was an issue, he'd still be a CEO at Dominoes. Taking the job at U of M was a step down in pay. The reality is Universities provide student athletes with an opportunity to earn a free education, develop as a person, and showcase their talents. Most athletes, even those who become famous, wouldn't make it professionally if it were not for first being given the opportunity to play in college. Denard Robinson would have been killed in the NFL if he could have bypassed college to play pro. Every year, he becomes better. Further, an athlete is not required to play for the University. There are no guns to their heads. Moreover, some Universities make a ton of money with some sports like football. Most Universities lose money. The lucky Universities, like U of M that make money, have to spend a lot of money supporting the infrastructure, and the left over money goes to supporting the rest of the non-money making sports which are required under federal law. Further, you don't know what communism means. You most likely couldn't tell the difference between socialism and communism for example. Our government has elements of socialism, which are quite beneficial. We otherwise wouldn't have public roads, parks, libraries, schools such as U of M, or a hundred other similar entities that could only be provided with pooled resources.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 12:06 p.m.

belboz, you have a faulty premise. You're implying that it's illegal to create an option for athletes outside of college; it's not. People have been drawn to college athletics mainly because of pride in the school they went to. That pride extends to the local community, and even further. No one is preventing anyone else from creating a minor league for those players who think college athletics are unbearably unfair. Second, &quot;a global market isn't a free market&quot;? That's called a non-sequitor. By definition, a global market CAN, but does not necessarily have to, be a free market.


Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 12:46 a.m.

Vande Bunte - Sure - but you left one thing out. Let's also allow all the universities to bid competitively for athletes. If you do that, the top atheletes will draw top dollar. The ones who are merely good will settle for a full or half athletic scholarship, while the so-so ones will walk on - which is what today. In fact, any athlete who qualfies for a full scholarship today would likely get at least that much under a free market system - if a university thinks an athlete is worth a full scholarship today, they're not going to regard him as less valuable under a free market system. And some players will continue to pay their own way and walk on for minimal benefit, as they do today.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11 p.m.

Ha... Like I said, plenty of people telling kids what they should be thankful to get what they are given. Fine. They should be. But, like I said, that is communism. (Or, at least, I'm saying it now.) This is what we will pay you for what you will do. The gap, though, between what they would EARN and what they are being GIVEN is so incredibly gigantic that people will use any argument whatsoever to preserve the status quo, even if it goes against the fundamental grain of &quot;letting the market&quot; decide. These philosophies are only good when we want them, I guess.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 10:19 p.m.

You are free to start your own &quot;Pre-NFL&quot; league and free to pay the players. Good luck to you.

David Vande Bunte

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 9:49 p.m.

Okay, since the free market doesn't provide free groceries, housing or educations, lets try it your way, on one condition: If they are marketable, then they need to not receive any scholarship money at all to play sports (Academic scholarships are a separate issue). Strip them of their University provided subsidies, and force them to pay tuition, room and board etc only on money that they make. You want a free market solution, so lets give it to them. Let's remove the unfair advantages they have when it comes to receiving an education. If you insist that they keep their scholarships, that is providing a non-competitive environment, which isn't free market at all, in which case your idea is soundly defeated right there. How many of those free market student athletes would rather have the free education plus a University provided apartment/dorm rather than being allowed to capitalize on their &quot;fame&quot; but be forced to pay their own bills?

Terry Star21

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 9:33 p.m.

Thank you Dave, excellent choice. We spend thousands of dollars with our own education, patiently waiting to graduate and become employed - thus making income. Most of these athletes are on full or partial scholarships. I would believe everyone of those athletes are appreciative of not only the stipends they receive, but how well they are treated at the university. These athletes are at their best when hungry (competitive) and paying their dues so to speak, is crucial for their growth and development.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 9:11 p.m.

I went to a NCAA Div III school. Personally, I believe that the entire concept of ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIPS is absurd. I realize that there is great PR value (and fund raising value) in a sports team, and yeah, I do enjoy watching football / basketball / hockey / etc. The University of Chicago has a better academic reputation, but Notre Dame gets more fame and money due to its football reputation, for instance. However, a sports program can easily get to the point where the program runs the university/college, starting with &quot;student athletes&quot; being on campus that have no business being there academically. I personally saw a high school class mate go to a Div I-A school on full scholarship that could barely sign his name, only to have him bounced out 2 years later when the DEA started asking questions. Such stories are not the norm, but they certainly happen too often, including in Big 10 programs. Lastly, I wonder how many &quot;affirmative action&quot; programs are tied in a symbiotic relationship with the sports programs. If we want to &quot;get real&quot; about our race issues on campus, we need to examine this entire sports scholarship issues.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 8:57 p.m.

Dave is absolutely right. What needs to get fixed first is the judicial system for the breaking of rules as they are currently written. The NCAA has demonstated a &quot;consistent inconsistency&quot; in their handling of these matters, both in time frame for consideration and in overall handling of penalties. If the NFL can work with the NCAA to enforce penalties on players, and the Coaches Association can hand out reprimands on their peers, then some policeing may take place.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

I disagree with the notion that there isn't commercial value in college athletics, in fact I think that is horribly ignorant, but I do agree that paying players is a bad idea and should not ever go beyond raising the money that they are already paid to include a little more to get by.


Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

That isn't what he said. He said there is only commercial value for a handful of student athletes, which is true. What is absurd is DBs notion that it would be impossible to coach a team that was mixed compensated with uncompensated. I'm wondering if Dave Brandon has ever heard of &quot;walk ons&quot;.

Stephen Landes

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 8:42 p.m.

I totally agree. Thank you, Mr. Brandon, for speaking so clearly on this subject.