Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and defensive end Michael Bennett meticulously tore apart a number of the most frequent arguments against paying student-athletes on Thursday. They also provided a candid view on the hypocrisy and frustration that they say exists within NCAA locker rooms around the country.
You should really watch the videos below in their entirety. But for those who don’t have time, we’ve broken down the best points by subject. (Thanks to Deadspin for first transcribing a lot of this, by the way.)
Sherman on the unrealistic expectations placed on student-athletes:
I would love for a regular student to have a student-athlete's schedule during the season for just one quarter or one semester and show me how you’ll balance that. Show me how you would schedule your classes when you can't schedule classes from 2 to 6 o'clock on any given day. Show me how you're going to get all your work done when after you get out at 7:30 or so, you've got a test the next day, you're dead tired from practice and you still have to study just as hard as everybody else every day and get all the same work done.
Sherman on the differences between the daily lives of students and student-athletes:
Most of these kids are done with school, done with class by 3 o’clock. You’ve got the rest of the day to do as you please, you know? You may spend a few hours studying, then you may spend a few hours at the library checking out books and just doing casual reading. Then you may go hang out with friends and have a coffee. When you’re a student-athlete you don’t have that kind of time. You wake up in the morning, you have weights at this time, then after weights you go to class and after class maybe try to grab you a quick bite to eat, then after you get your quick bite to eat you go straight to meetings and after meetings you got practice and after practice you got to try to get all the work done you had throughout the day that you got from your lectures and from your focus groups. And those aren't the things people focus on when talking about student-athletes.
Sherman on why athletes often can’t major in whatever they want:
A lot of the classes c0nflict with your time as a football player. You have an engineering class from 2 to 3:30, There’s no way you can do both [that and practice]. You can’t go to meetings and take your engineering classes from 2 to 3:30. So what do you do? You know, what do you do? Do you switch your major? Or do you tell your coach “Hey, I got engineering class from 2 to 3:30 and I have to go today”? That’s a conflict of interest.
Sherman on the idea that athletes should be happy with what they’re given:
They are upset when a student-athlete says they need a little cash. Well, I can tell you from experience, I had negative-40 bucks in my account. Usually my account was in the negative more time than it was in the positive. You've got to make decisions on whether you get gas for your car or whether you get a meal for the day. You've got one of the two choices. People think, "Oh, you're on scholarship."
Sherman on what college football players are told behind closed doors:
To their knowledge, you're there to play football. You're not on scholarship for school and it sounds crazy when a student-athlete says that, but that's those are the things coaches tell them every day: "You're not on scholarship for school."
Bennett on how colleges are like burger joints:
I think the NCAA is one of the biggest scams in America, ‘cause, you know, these kids put so much on the line, and they study hard, they play football as hard as they can, but if they don't crack the NFL, then they say, "We give you a free degree." That's like me owning a restaurant and giving you a free burger. I mean, it's not really doing anything for me. I'm just giving you something that I already have.
Bennett on what it’s like to watch your school make $50 million on jersey sales:
I think my school, Texas A&M, averaged $50 million just on jersey sales ... They'll sell numbers of guys that don't have names on the back of the jerseys, but we all know who No. 2 is for College Station, and that'll be Johnny Manziel ... he makes so much for the university, but he doesn't see any of the money.
Bennett on what he thinks would be a fair system:
They need to come up with some kind of program to keep guys in college. I would say, come up with some kind of number. Maybe it's $60,000 for every year you stay in college, and then at the end of the year they keep in some kind of 401k. You stay in college, you graduate, you keep that money until you're a certain age, and then after that you get that money and you get to determine what you want to do with it. And that gives you the chance to do something special in life because you give so much to these schools, and they just move on.
Bennett on why college football coaches get paid so well:
Of course, they can pay Jim Harbaugh $48 million because they don't have to pay any of the athletes. The athletes are the ones that really make the school, it's not really the coach. If Nick Saban doesn't have those athletes that he has, if he doesn't have the five-star recruits, can he still be Alabama?
Bennett on how non-athletes treated him:
When I was in college, you know, I'm going to class, and then some student comes to me and says "I pay your tuition." I'm like, you don't pay my damn tuition. My mom paid my tuition when she worked two jobs, and I woke up every morning at 6 a.m. and I worked hard. To think about that, it makes me so mad and irate to think that people are so simple-minded when it comes to something like that.
Bennett on what it feels like now:
I think there are very few schools that actually care about the players.