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MAC Media Day Recap: Commish Does Not Support Paying Student-Athletes

At MAC Football Media Day, commissioner Jon Steinbrecher gave his yearly "State of the MAC" speech to the media. One of the topics mentioned involved paying student-athletes.

Dave Reginek

Addressing the media at MAC Football Media Day, conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher discussed various topics to start the festivities. In doing so, he used a lot of quotes from old history textbooks. Here are some that I'm talking about:

"Lofty gate receipts from college athletics had turned amateur athletics into major commercial spectacles." -Charles William Eliot, Harvard's 21st president.

"If the movement shall continue at the same rate, it will soon be fairly a question whether the letters B.A. stand more for Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Athletics." -President Walker of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

These quotes are from the early 1900s and are still relevant today. Back then, there weren't football games being played on a Wednesday that everybody watched on ESPN while keeping up with all of the hilarity happening on Twitter. The commercialization of sport wasn't always there, but as time went on, schools and conferences have brought in more money than they did before while players have been forced into amateurism, since that's the road they're forced to take before going into the NFL. Times sure have changed since those quotes were first recited, but one thing will still, certainly, remain the same.

"We are headed toward the redefinition of a grant-in-aid, so that may include the full cost of attendance. And while I'm supportive of this, we will not support paying student-athletes, which is inconsistent with the collegiate model," Steinbrecher said.

There are a number of ways we could analyze, reanalyze, overanalyze, ignore, and look at this again. While many people saw the quote pop up on Twitter as he said this, there's still not a whole lot that he can do about this issue. Many liberal-minded sports fans are probably really pissed about this, but this is a huge press release by the MAC, that would suffer huge punishments if their bosses (NCAA) were to find out that they'd say otherwise.

"The term student-athlete has been derived by many and I can assure you that those in the MAC in positions of leadership have great respect for that term and take it very seriously. Pressure from the public, the legal system and perhaps even from the government are causing all involved to take look at how we conduct our affairs," Steinbrecher said.

"We have lost the PR battle about the value of a grant-in-aid and the value of getting an education. I find it amazing that some believe that receiving an athletics grant-in-aid is not a good deal. As a father of three in college, I wish my children were all grant-in-aids for being on a sports team."

He went on to say that "we" (by this, he means everybody around the nation) don't put enough emphasis on the fact that a person with a B.A. will earn a little over a million dollars more than the contrasting person who hasn't earned a B.A.

Steinbrecher also took a few minutes to talk about why intercollegiate athletics and higher education are linked together. This was probably a topic not a lot of media members came into Ford Field with questions regarding this topic to have answered, but I'll shut up now and tell you what he said:

"The United States and Canada are the only ones who combine those two. One of the great pleasures of my position is that I get to visit with student-athletes and their families on some occasion," Steinbrecher said.

"And I had a chance to visit with foreign student-athletes, who had experienced a different educational system and a different sports system. They almost always speak to how special it is to come to the United States, pursue an education, and develop their abilities in their chosen field while also developing their passion in their chosen sports. They comment on how they could not do that back at home and how wonderful it is that they have the ability to combine those two.

"Perhaps we have it right. Intercollegiate athletics adds vibrancy, energy and fullness to our institutions. This is not to say that there aren't challenges, that's why there's so many checks and balances to the system, and when they're implemented, they help us to regulate. When not, we often have challenges."