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Swofford says there are kinks to paying athletes


by Adam Smith
GREENSBORO — John Swofford doesn’t advocate paying college athletes and, in his judgment, neither do the majority of schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

But in his annual address at the ACC Football Kickoff, the league commissioner said Sunday that he’s taking a diligent look at the effects of increasing scholarship money for players.

Or “trying to enhance the financial well-being of student-athletes that are on scholarship,” was the way he termed it, from a lectern in a conference room at Grandover Resort.

“Whether that’s need based, whether it’s based on a simple stipend or some other way to approach it,” Swofford said. He also acknowledged: “We’ve been talking about this nationally for several years now, without finding something that works, that agrees with enough people.”

Last week, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier reiterated his support for a proposal that would supply college football and basketball players with expense money — for example, $300 per game in football.

Spurrier said under that premise players would receive $3,600 to $3,900 during the course of a year, depending on the number of games they played. He said Southeastern Conference coaches have expressed unanimous approval for the proposal.

Swofford said that extra money provided solely for football and basketball players is too narrow of a stance.

“It’s very difficult to look at it in terms of a sport or two sports, just from a legal standpoint, with Title IX and what’s appropriate and what’s moral,” he said. “It’s more complicated than at first meets the eye. Some of it’s the difference in financial capability that programs have in the NCAA and the tremendous range of financial capability that programs have.”

Swofford said a helpful measure would be to boost athletic scholarships to the full cost of attending a school. He mentioned that stipends existed for players when he played football at North Carolina from 1969-71.

“A lot of people are supportive of enhancing the scholarship if it’s based on need,” he said. “But you’ve got to be able to find something that enough people can accept and digest and support in order to move it forward. And so far, collectively, we have not been able to do that.”

Swofford, the ACC commissioner since 1997, opined on a range of topics Sunday, while flanked by the shiny helmets of the 14 schools that will play football in the league this season.

Here are a few quick hitters:

■ He said the city of Charlotte and the Carolina Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium have “a leg up” for holding future ACC championship games in football. A final determination should come some time around this year’s game on Dec. 7.

■ He said the league, along with ESPN, is in the process of evaluating and analyzing the potential for starting an ACC Network, like the Big Ten, SEC and other power conferences have done.

■ He said Syracuse has been a part of ACC expansion discussion talks for some time, dating to when the league expanded from nine teams to 11 in 2004 and then 12 teams in 2005.

■ On Notre Dame maintaining its football independence while joining the ACC for other sports, Swofford said “the vast majority of people in our league are very pleased that Notre Dame is a part of the ACC family, under the conditions that they are currently under.”

■ On impending NCAA sanctions against Miami, Swofford said: “I would hope that whatever is coming from the NCAA will come before the season starts. I’ll be very disappointed if that’s not the case.”



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