Bob Stoops' comments to Matt Hayes of SportingNews.com in a column earlier this week touched off a big of firestorm about compensation for college athletes. One thing I happened to notice from the jump: For all the bluster from Stoops about athletes going hungry and and the value of a college scholarship, Stoops never said he's against full-cost-of-attendance scholarships.
Full-cost-of-attendance scholarships include stipends to make up the shortfall between what is covered by an athletic scholarship and the full cost of living for a college student. A proposal to offer athletes a stipend of up to $2,000 per year to cover their living expenses is stuck somewhere in the NCAA legislative morass at the moment. (I did a podcast with NCAA expert John Infante on the subject this week.)
Columnist Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman followed up with Stoops yesterday, and OU's coach said he is in favor of stipends. As Tramel points out, that doesn't mean he's backing of his "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" message. However, the positions aren't exclusive.
Personally, I'm not going to defend Stoops' overall attitude towards athletes' compensation. I don't agree with him in the least there.
On the other hand, stipends and more expansive pay-for-play suggestions tend to get conflated in this debate, and there's an important distinction to be made between the two. Stoops' attitude about paying players above and beyond their scholarships deserves scrutiny, but the villification of Stoops as a greedy bastard who's even against modest stipends is misplaced.