Dabo Swinney thinks it’s okay for coaches to make money, but not for players

Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney has caused a stir with his comments about those who refer to coaches’ salaries when discussing why athletes should be paid.

The NCAA’s name, image and likeness program started last year, allowing college athletes to sign contracts to make money. In the past, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has been open about college athletics potentially becoming a pay-for-play game.

In a recent interview with ESPN’s Chris Low, Swinney commented on those who cited coaching salaries as a reason college athletes should make a profit before coming onto campus. Here are his full comments below, courtesy of the ESPN article linked above:

Well, Nick Saban is 70 years old. I am 52 years old. None of us set markets for what we do. We live in a capitalist society. The Delta boss probably makes a lot more money than the people who check in your bags, but these people are as important as anyone else. None of us set markets for what we do. It’s a free market we live in, in everything. It’s just that our jobs are so visible and so public. I can tell you this: none of us started coaching to make money, but I make no apologies for being successful.

Dabo Swinney’s comments on why coaches should be paid and not players

Swinney continued with the coaching salaries. He said he even believed Saban was “probably underpaid” when asked if college football coaches make too much money. Saban signed a new contract extension with Alabama last August, where he’s making an average of $10.6 million a year until the contract expires at the end of the 2028 season.

Back in 2019, Swinney signed a 10-year contract extension with Clemson totaling $93 million, keeping him with the team through the 2028 season.

The Clemson head coach has been outspoken about what he calls “the professionalization of college football.” He gave his definition in the following quote, h/t ESPN.

Away from scholarships and away from academics. 98% of these kids don’t play in the NFL. That’s one of the reasons I like the NIL because 98% of them won’t make it to the NFL so it’s good that they can take advantage of those opportunities as long as they have a nice platform. … As adults we should do everything we can to encourage education – period, the end – and that will never change for me, because I know that this is what ultimately creates the generational change in the lives of young people. … So I’ve always been about education and the college model and the college experience, and I don’t think what’s been created now is healthy for the game, and I don’t think it’s healthy for them in the long run either Youth.

You can read Swinney’s full comments in the ESPN article linked above.

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John Verrall

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