By: Duane Rankin, Montgomery Advertiser
Several HBCUs are discussed in the article. The article was copied & pasted so everyone would have access to read it. Smaller college teams in second and short situation
"They'd like to get paid, too.
With all the talk about paying Division I-A college football players and power leagues that are seeking more autonomy to provide full cost-of-attendance and other benefits, athletes at Division I-AA schools like Alabama State and Division II schools like Tuskegee also want to share in the wealth.
"It sucks," Alabama State senior defensive tackle Derrick Billups said. "I feel like we deserve money, but I don't really complain about it. It would help out a whole lot if student-athletes received money because it's tough in college. All our parents aren't blessed financially."
The "Big Five" proposal of the 65 schools in the SEC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 to provide full cost-of-attendance, medical care and insurance as well as to fund trips for family members to visit athletes is up for a final vote next month. NCAA I-AA and D-II programs may never receive those benefits, but Southern coach Dawson Odums described a way to address the needs of players at their level.
"From a nutrition standpoint, from a meal standpoint, from a housing standpoint; whatever it takes for those guys to have a better life — invest in them," Odums said. "My guys get up at 5:30 a.m. for a whole year and don't have anything to eat. You mean we can't invest in some granola bars and some chocolate milk? Something?"
Major college programs have multimillion-dollar facilities, top-shelf equipment and take chartered flights to road games. The situation faced by Grambling players — who boycotted last year's game at Jackson State due to lack of upkeep of facilities, mold on the equipment and marathon bus rides to games — shed light on the difference between the football powers and everyone else.
"The last three champions in the SWAC in 2010, 2011 and 2012 are a combined 7-26 after winning a championship," Odums said. "I attribute that to not investing when the product is at the top.
"Something has to get built. Tear up a field or something. But when you win, you made money. So invest back into the guys who allowed you to make that money. Everybody pulled from the football program."
They understand the big boys bring in much bigger bucks. According to the Office of Postsecondary Education, Alabama generated $88,660,439 in football revenue in 2012-13.
The 10 SWAC football teams had a combined $21,979,818 in revenue that academic year. ASU made $2,995,413, while Tuskegee led all SIAC teams at $2,006,507.
Still, hearing power conferences talk money is laughable to those who don't even make a morsel of what SEC, ACC or Pac-12 teams do.
"In that situation, compared to our situation, what do (they) have to complain about?" said Texas Southern junior quarterback Homer Causey, who previously played at D-II Shaw.Different perspectives
It's also frustrating for I-AA and D-II players because they're making the same sacrifices to play the same game, but aren't reaping nearly the same benefits, be it better facilities, travel or overall program treatment.
"We're putting in all these hours besides school," Jackson State senior quarterback La Montiez Ivy said. "We have study hall. We have to meet up to the physical requirements to play the game."
If the football players from major conferences start getting paid, maybe those at the lower levels will receive funding one day. Maybe.
"I try not to pay attention to it because it's not going to happen," Mississippi Valley State senior receiver Julian Stafford said. "That's how I see it, but it would be a nice thing if we did get paid."
Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach Monte Coleman sees a different outcome, one he says would hinder I-AA or D-II schools when it comes recruiting.
"If they started paying players — players who have the ability to come to a I-AA maybe because of tradition — we're going to lose those players," Coleman said. "We do compete with them on a small scale with some kids, but if they said, 'I'm going to give you $1,000 a month,' or whatever it is, that kid is going to leave us and go there."
College football players on all levels don't receive stipends. Over the past few years, the NCAA has kicked around a proposal of a $2,000 stipend per year for scholarship athletes, but it's never been passed.Ideal payment?
The Montgomery Advertiser asked Ivy and Causey what would be a fair amount of money to pay a player every two weeks. Ivy said $250, which adds up to $1,875 for a 15-week semester.
But once Ivy started calculating expenses such as food, gas for a car and utilities, he came to a troubling realization.
"That's not covering anything," Ivy said.
Causey suggested $500 every two weeks.
"You'd want to keep some food in the room," Causey said. "Some needs, some hygiene needs. Maybe have a couple of dollars to go to the movies and spend the money on some things that you'd like to do."
Jackson State coach Harold Jackson suggested players might not turn to an agent for money if they were paid.
"Most of these young men today, they come into school, they have a family, so they've got to try to take care of their family some kind of way," Jackson said. "So how are they going to take care of their family in college if they can't work or get a job? But if the school was giving them an allowance, a stipend, I think that will take care of a lot of those problems that we're having with agents."Tiresome travel
Big schools typically take chartered flights to road games even if they're within a reasonable driving distance. Schools at the I-AA and D-II level don't have that luxury.
So they travel by bus. Just thinking about trips to Montgomery (to play Alabama State), Houston (Texas Southern) and San Marcos (Texas State) this season exhausts Arkansas-Pine Bluff's Coleman.
"We're going to be on the bus eight, nine hours on those particular trips," Coleman said. "The University of Arkansas, hypothetically, they're going to get on their plane and travel there. It costs money to do it, but you've got donors giving them $200 and $300 million over a lifetime. So it doesn't become an issue. If we had those types of donors, instead of busing to Montgomery, we'd get on a plane."
Coleman said travel is the second-highest expense behind scholarships. Tuskegee started last season with six road games, and bused to all but one.
"It's rough," former Tuskegee quarterback Rashard Burkette of Montgomery said after a home game last season. "Long bus rides. We come fresh off a game, get right back on the bus and we're not staying overnight at a hotel."
Last week, Tuskegee coach Willie Slater admitted that part of the 2013 schedule likely hurt his team later in the season. So the friendly skies would be even friendlier to I-AA and D-II players.
"You have to rest the whole day after a long bus ride," Alabama State senior tailback Malcolm Cyrus said. "Everybody is drowsy. You can't sleep well on a bus, anyway.
"Buses have compact seats. You want to lean here, lean there. Everybody is crunched up. Flying is way better. You get on a plane and in an hour, hour and 30 minutes, you're there."Scholarship not enough
Players don't receive stipends, but can get Pell Grant funds — if eligible. Last year, $2,800 was the maximum amount football players could receive from a Pell Grant. For an I-AA or D-II athlete, that doesn't compensate for the loans many of them have to take out just to pay for college.
According to scholarshipstats.com, Division I-AA programs can provide a maximum of 63 full scholarships, and Division II can offer up to 36 full scholarships. D-I schools have 85 full scholarships to give. So far more football players at the I-AA and D-II levels are on partial scholarships than at the D-I level.
"At Morehouse, everybody on our team is less than half," said Morehouse senior tailback Shelton Hamilton, a Montgomery native. "A lot of guys on our team have to take out loans.
"Tuition is $25,000. You may be on $18,000 for football. So you have to come up with the rest of the money for tuition, plus room and board."
In short, players at the lower levels would enjoy full cost-of-attendance, too.
"If they could just take care of our school and our housing, that would be enough for us," Hamilton said. "I'm pretty sure every Division II athlete would say the same thing."
Tuskegee senior quarterback Justin Nared, who is on a full scholarship, is happy to say he'll graduate without any debt.
"I'm going to be debt-free versus having to pay back loans," he said.
Many others can't make the same statement, however.
Hamilton has an athletic and academic scholarship, so he doesn't have expenses, but he said the NCAA should provide a stipend to help players with meals and traveling home for emergencies.
"A lot of our players don't have meal plans because we don't have the scholarships to do that," he said. "So a lot of our players don't eat unless it's game week. They should give something to make sure all players are fed and can travel home if they need to."
Benedict coach James Woody endorses additional scholarship funds, but he'd want the funding to be incentive based. He favors awarding of grants for maintaining a certain grade point average.
"A lot of kids are used to being given things," Woody said. "I just feel with this generation, they've got to work for what they should get. That goes for all athletes. Make those kids work for the incentives and benefits they're seeking instead of just flat-out giving it to them."
Beyond that, Coleman said a full scholarship at Arkansas-Pine Bluff allows students to take a maximum of 15 course hours. Athletes at D-I schools can take more hours and aren't limited during summer school.
"We have to get special funding in order for us to even send our kids to summer school," Coleman said.Pell Grants help — a little
Cyrus said he received $2,500 per semester through Pell Grant. He said the players get the money in a lump sum during the first two weeks each semester.
While that may seem like a lot of money to receive at one time, Cyrus said it can go fast.
"How can you make that stretch over a four- or five-month period? You can, but it's very hard," Cyrus said. "People don't think about (car insurance). Cellphone bill is $90 a month. In four months, that's already $400. Car insurance is $60 a month. That's $200 gone. I'm down to $1,800 already. I go shopping to get clothes. It's hard to budget, and you still want to do stuff you want to do."
Cyrus said he also helps out friends and gives money to his mom, who has children at home, and dad, but additional expenses often arise.
"Every year, things come up," Cyrus said. "I have to get my car fixed probably twice a year. I might have to buy tires. That's $400 gone. You have to get tires. There's maintenance. Oil change."
Billups, who also receives Pell Grant funding, has a mom who can help, but it's not easy for him, either.
"It's a struggle," Billups said. "I struggle. I go through days when I don't have any money. My mom, she has to pay a bill or something."
Causey sees a silver lining out of all this.
"It betters you in life," Causey said. "You learn how to manage. In life, there's going to be times you have to manage. It builds you for those times."Help your brother out
Those without Pell Grant funds face a greater struggle, but like teammates do, the players help each other. Miles senior quarterback Demetrice Price of Birmingham said his mom has cooked dinner for out-of-state players.
"A teammate is like a brother to me," said Price, who receives Pell Grant funding. "What's mine is yours. What's your is mine. I try my best. If a guy doesn't have money, the guys who have money, we'll probably put in $5 each for him. That's how we do."
Nared said he's provided transportation for teammates to get food, even in the midnight hour.
"In Tuskegee, there is only one store that stays open 24/7," he said. "So it's been plenty of nights I've gotten a text at 11:30 or 12 saying, 'Hey, can you run me to McDonald's?' I never asked for gas money.
"Guys who have an apartment, we'll cook. It is difficult, but we manage because we want to do things the right way. We manage to get through."
Some SEC or ACC football players face the same issues, but their needs are being discussed and addressed. The same can't be said for I-AA and D-II players.
"They're at the top of the food chain," Albany State coach Mike White said. "It's on this level, when you have to deal with what we have to deal with, that's what it's all about."
Here's a comparative look at the revenue schools in the Southeastern Conference, Southwestern Athletic Conference and Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference generated for football in 2012-13, according to the Office of Postsecondary Education.SEC
Texas A&M: $53,800,924
South Carolina: $49,266,878
Ole Miss: $41,136,644
Mississippi St.: $25,824,156
Total revenue: $759,272,319
Avg. (14 teams) $54,233,737SWAC
Alabama: A&M $3,275,757
Alabama State: $2,995,413
Texas Southern: $2,720,494
Prairie View: $2,184,367
Alcorn State: $1,713,736
Ark-Pine Bluff: 1,654,317
Miss. Valley St.: $1,098,231
Jackson State $1,613,437
Total revenue: $21,979,818
Avg. (10 teams): $2,197,981SIAC
Clark Atlanta: $1,322,206
Albany State: $1,052,074
Kentucky State: $1,026,962
Fort Valley St.: $777,284
Central State: $662,403
Total revenue: $11,581,854
Avg. (10 teams): $1,158,185
* — No records of information
** —Didn't have a football team "