Lucas Vincent didn’t like what he saw.
The Missouri junior defensive lineman saw his likeness in EA Sport’s NCAA Football 14 — same number, same characteristics despite lacking his name on the game. Vincent, though, did not receive any money from the game. So, he took to Twitter.
“I wanna buy the new NCAA game but I also don't wanna be poor till September... My likeness is on the game why do I have to pay for it?” he tweeted from his @SamoanTaika96 account July 8.
In 30 words, Vincent summed up a question the Southeastern Conference has been asking itself for the last several months: Should collegiate players be paid?
This question, though, has been asked over and over again since the inception of college sports. Before the NCAA was created in 1906, student organizations hired athletes to play as non-students.
After its founding, the NCAA strove to “protect young people from the dangerous and exploitative athletics practices of the time,” according the NCAA website. This time period, though, came before multimillion-dollar stadium and TV contracts. The sport was in its infancy. The rule for not paying players, though, has not changed.
Scandals involving paying players have ravaged the SEC over the years. Early in September, for example, Yahoo! Sports published an article reporting “five Southeastern Conference football stars violated NCAA rules by receiving extra benefits prior to completing their collegiate careers.”
In 2011, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier offered an idea to pay players during the SEC spring meetings. The proposal: Pay the 70-member traveling players $300 per game per team, or $21,000 per game. Including Spurrier, seven coaches signed the proposal.
“They could give it to their parents for travel, lodging, meals,” Spurrier said to USA Today in June 2011. “Maybe they could take their girlfriend out Sunday night or Saturday night and so forth. A bunch of us coaches felt so strongly about it that we would be willing to pay it.”
Spurrier repeated his pitch to pay players again at this year’s SEC media days. Spurrier, a former NFL coach, said that now all the SEC coaches were willing to pay $280,000 to players, which he said was “tiny” compared to the money flowing into college football right now. Each player would receive about $3,600 to spend as he wishes.
Spurrier said he would continue to fight for the players until President Barack Obama told him to stop.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel echoed Spurrier and released a statement in September on his website.
“The SEC is trying to get this passed, and I think it’s the right thing to do and the fair thing to do,” Pinkel said in the statement. “It’s not going to be a ridiculous amount of money, but it’ll certainly put a little extra money in their pockets so it can make their college lives a little bit easier.”
The SEC is not currently pursuing a program to pay players.