Bernie Machen, University of Florida looking into compensation for student-athletes

Yes, this is our best picture of ol' Bernie. Gig 'em, or something. - Aaron M. Sprecher

Florida's been among the nation's leaders in student-athlete welfare, so this is no surprise.

This isn't really "new" news, just a reminder: As The Independent Florida Alligator's Sean Stewart-Muniz reports, University of Florida president Bernie Machen has been involved in discussions with the NCAA about increasing student-athlete compensation, and is amenable to the idea.

During last week’s Board of Trustees meeting, Machen discussed what the decision means for UF.

Machen said that he’s been involved in negotiations with the National Collegiate Athletic Association about the organization’s cap on athletic scholarships for about a year.


"The irony is that we can pay more for an academic scholarship than we can for an athletic scholarship," he said.

While negotiations are still underway, Machen has been exploring several options with five of the six football conferences to give more aid to student athletes. Paying athletes stipends and increasing academic support are both on the table.

Machen isn’t just looking to support football players. He wants to expand payment and support for all of the university’s athletes.

"There wouldn’t be just putting more money on the table," he said. "It would be providing incentives, taking care of these athletes, making sure that they are able to get educated however it needs to be done."

I think Stewart-Muniz could be a little clearer on "five of the six football conferences" — that's presumably five of the sextet of former BCS auto-bid conferences comprised of the ACC, American, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC — but his overall point is clear: Machen (and thus Florida) is being proactive and amenable to the idea of increased compensation and/or support for "student-athletes," and not just for football and men's basketball players.

Machen once called the millions upon millions that had been spent on coaches' salaries and facilities upgrades (instead of on players) "just embarrassing," and has helped Florida lead on providing things like four-year scholarships.

However, that support for increased compensation ought to be contrasted with Machen's other crystal-clear remarks on paying players. In 2012, he told trustees that "We are not interested in making it into a professional model where we pay students," and shot down reports of a proposal from SEC football coaches to pay players.

Whether you agree with this stance on investigating increasing compensation or not — and I sure do bet you will do that in the comments, either way! — it shows that Florida is not content to simply stick its head in the sand when it comes to this issue.

That much is unquestionably good.

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