JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
HORSESHOE BAY — Former Texas A&M University head football coach R.C Slocum gave attendees of the Horseshoe Bay Sports Club plenty to consider as he talked about the NCAA, paying college athletes and the Aggies on Oct. 16.
Slocum, who still has the record for the most wins as a Texas A&M football coach at 123-47, said paying college athletes beyond their scholarship isn’t that simple despite the amount of money athletic departments report.
One of the reasons is because of Title IX, which is a federal law that states athletic departments must give equal amounts to male and female athletics regarding housing, travel and meals.
Slocum, who is the special advisor to Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin, believes the time is coming when the top 70 athletic departments need to discuss the challenges they have in common and develop rules that work for them.
As for giving stipends to student athletes beyond their scholarship money, Slocum said the proximity of a school will play a factor in the amount.
For instance, the cost of living in Los Angeles doesn’t compare to living in Texas, he said. So coaches in California will ask to be allowed to pay more. And if approved, coaches could use that to point out that California schools pay more than schools in Texas.
The former coach added most colleges can’t afford to pay all of their athletes and mentioned something a friend of his told him when they talked about this issue: “When you go to college, you’re supposed to be poor.”
“In spite of what you read, for every athletic scholarship athlete, the athletic departments have to generate enough money to pay for the university the cost of that money,” he said.
Slocum smiled at the notion that athletes should turn down the opportunity to play professional football to earn their degrees. He said he had a conversation with someone who believes that. So he asked how many undergraduate engineering majors would turn down a contract that paid $25 million to stay to earn a degree.
It’s his prediction that Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel will leave early to become a professional football player, though, he added, he has not asked Manziel his plans.
“I think he’ll be a good NFL prospect,” the former coach said. “I think he’ll have a big decision to make. I think he plays big. Look at (New Orleans quarterback) Drew (Brees) and (Seattle quarterback Russell) Wilson. They’re not big guys.”
He added that if Manziel leaves, it doesn’t mean A&M’s winning ends.
“I think our scheme is a very good scheme,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll be bad. There will be someone else to step in and be efficient.”