The University of Georgia’s athletic department has spent a good chunk of change on its football program recently, with $24 million going toward a new indoor practice facility, and the recent announcement of a $63 million renovation of Sanford Stadium. All but $10 million of that money will come from fundraising.
According to SEC Country, UGA has been able to accomplish all of this without using any of its “reserve money,” that includes over $32 million which is kept to be used for “general support” of UGA athletics.
“There are a lot of assumptions that people are making, that this revenue stream is going to be there forever,” athletics director Greg McGarity said. “If we end up having to pay student-athletes down the road, where is that money going to come from? … There are a lot of unknowns, and what this allows us to do, and the right way, is to have a buffer there that allows us to cover the unexpected.”
Although we’re likely a long way from the NCAA deciding to fully pay its players, something it has fought tooth-and-nail in various legal battles, there have been some recent victories for player compensation.
Just last month, the NCAA settled for $208.7 million in a lawsuit for players who played before cost of attendance stipend were implemented or did not receive one since they have been. It boils down to over $6,700 dollars per athlete, provided they played four years between 2009-2017. The lawsuit was filed by former West Virginia running back Shawne Alston, but the payout is for athletes from other sports, as well.
In April 2016, the NCAA gave a $60 million settlement package for former players whose likeness were used in EA Sports’ NCAA video games, first filed by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon. Also included in the O’Bannon settlement was the ability for schools to pay players up to $5,000 in deferred compensation.
Given the NCAA’s hard-nosed stance against paying its players, we probably won’t see a rapid change of heart any time soon, but it’s nice to see that UGA is prepared if it does happen. That’s a luxury that some smaller programs likely don’t have the ability to do.