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April 14, 2013

OU football coach sets record straight on touchy topic of paying college athletes

NORMAN — Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops tried to set the record straight Saturday after the annual Red-White spring game.

He made news last week when a story from “The Sporting News” cast him squarely against paying cash stipends to scholarship athletes. It is a subject that’s become a hot topic in college sports as many have come out in favor of so-called “full cost” scholarships.

“I tell my guys all the time,” the story quoted Stoops as saying, “you’re not the first one to spend a hungry Sunday without any money.”

Stoops went on to say that at Oklahoma, an out-of-state athlete’s scholarship, when everything is considered — room, board, training, coaching, nutritional counseling, tutoring, etc. — is worth more than $200,000 over the length of the scholarship.

“I don’t get why people say these guys don’t get paid,” Stoops said. “It’s simple. They are paid quite often, quite a bit and handsomely.”

Saturday, Stoops reiterated much of what “The Sporting News” quoted him as saying, but said his position on stipends was not reflected accurately.

Indeed, despite the coach’s quotes, it appears “The Sporting News” may have severely misrepresented his position on stipends.

“I wasn’t asked, specifically, am I in favor of a stipend? … I am in favor of a stipend as long as all athletes get it, female and male,” Stoops said. “I think it’s the right thing. I love our women’s sports at this university … So everyone needs to get one if they’re going to give a football player one.”

Stoops added, “I was just asked about paying players to play football and I went off on ‘they are already being paid.’”

He said he understood he may have come off as insensitive with his example of the athlete who has run out of resources on a day the mess hall is closed, but said it was a situation he had endured himself.“We’ve all been a little bit hungry. When I was 18, 19, I was and I’ll bet most of you were, too,” he said. “Now that doesn’t mean I’m not concerned about my players and don’t want the best for them. I do. But that’s part of life, too, managing what you have.”

Clay Horning

Follow me @clayhorning

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