GREENSBORO, N.C. — Randy Edsall rarely trends towards soapbox lecturing during his news conferences, but with the proper question, he can pound the pulpit with the best of them.
This February, Edsall protested the NCAA’s proposed recruiting legislation. The second sentence in his response was, “I hate them.” At the end, he called it the “wild, wild West.” Apocalyptic? Maybe. But the NCAA eventually suspended those football recruiting rule changes, so score one for Edsall.
Edsall was presented with such an opportunity Monday afternoon at ACC media day, consistently espousing a pro-player sentiment concerning player safety and, most notably, college athlete compensation.
Somehow, an answer about college football trending toward, as ACC commissioner John Swofford told USA Today, a “super division,” turned into comments about the federal antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA, most commonly known as the O’Bannon lawsuit, named after former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. Six current college football players recently joined the suit, which alleges that the NCAA, EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Co. violated federal antitrust laws by using the likeness of college players without proper compensation.
Count Edsall on board.
“When you take a look at that lawsuit that’s going on,” he said, “I’m surprised more student-athletes haven’t joined that lawsuit because of what has taken place.”
But would Edsall, who played quarterback for Syracuse in the late 1970s, join the lawsuit if he were still playing today?
“Most definitely,” he said. “Most definitely. Kids are committed to institutions, not to the NCAA. And the NCAA is using their likeness to make money, in my opinion. And that money is not going back to these kids.”
Thirty minutes later, the issue of compensation surfaced. Speaking with Sports Business Journal this June, Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson said he believed college athletes should be compensated based on need. Edsall expressed a similar view.
“I think the players should get some kind of monthly stipend for what they do,” Edsall said. “They get a Pell Grant during the fall and spring semesters, but now they’re with us for nine weeks in the summertime. They don’t get anything. And they’re still going to school and they’re still taking classes, so there ought to be something there, in my opinion, if the kids are of need should get something if they’re getting that in the fall.
“Now granted, they can work. But again, if they work full-time, then they have to take that money and use it to pay for their food and housing, because you can’t subsidize them from an athlete department. Those are some of the issues that have to be determined.”
Every big-picture issue Edsall commented on circled back to a central theme: He wants some new overseer position created for decision-makers to “sit down and analyze the game and analyze the issues and that’s all they do.” Compensation included.
“There’s so many issues that we have confronting our sport right now,” Edsall said. “You have to have people who are sitting down and talking this out 24 hours a day, 365 days out of the year, if we want this sport to continue to do the things we want for young people. It’s enormous. There’s some enormous issues that are there right now.”