South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has long been a proponent of NCAA athletes getting better financial compensation than simply the value of an athletic scholarship. Now, he has even more reason to advocate the growing national sentiment for that to happen.
Jadeveon Clowney, who could be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, told Jim Rome on Showtime that he might have stayed at South Carolina for his senior season had circumstances been different.
"It would have made a difference. If I had gotten paid and had a chance to take care of my family through college, I probably would have stayed and finished," Clowney said from the Exos training facility in Florida, where he is preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine. Asked if the time is right for college athletes to receive pay, Clowney was clear: Yes.
"I think so. If they're selling jerseys with your number and people are making money off the ticket sales, I think college athletes should get paid," he said.
While it might just be a matter of time before the NCAA gives in to the push for better provisions for athletes, the notion that Clowney would have stayed in college for another year is far-fetched at best. For one thing, any stipend added to what athletes already receive will be intended for, and surely only lucrative enough, to take care of self. As big as the college sports cash cow is, taking care of entire families won't be in the cards.
For another, a top-flight prospect like Clowney would have almost no more incentive to stay for a senior season than he has now. Where it might more readily impact early-entry decisions, however, is among the athletes who need to think twice about turning pro early the most: The ones projected to be day-three draft picks and are missing a chance to better their draft stock by staying in school.
Clowney is most definitely not in that category, but he's certainly a high-profile spokesperson for the cause.