The MAC Media Day started with a bang as the commissioner of the Mid-American Conference Jon Steinbrecher addressed the media with the biggest topics around all of college football. Steinbrecher would express his opinion on paying collegiate players, and what the MAC's stance is on the topic.
No Pay, No Way
Universities from the power 5 conferences in college football have shown interest in using their resources to their advantage. Whether it's giving student athletes the right to sell their own merchandise such as autographed memorabilia, jersey's and more. Or having the universities themselves pay the student athletes as if it were a job. None of these ideas sounded appealing to Steinbrecher.
Commissioner Steinbrecher commented on the grant-in-aid program, which is money provided to student athletes to help with any expenses they might have, but is not a part of a athletes scholarship money:
"We are headed toward the redefinition of a grant-in-aid, so that may include the full cost of attendance. And while I'm supportive of this, we will not support paying student-athletes, which is inconsistent with the collegiate model."
Small Conference Voice
A statement like this was much needed for college football just to show the smaller conferences have a voice in this as well. There needed to be someone to speak up to say that the little guys are here to play ball as well, and that they're just as important as everybody else. The MAC can speak for many conferences such as C-USA, American, Sun Belt and Mountain West.
These athletes are getting division 1 educations with great degrees that they can use after college to get a good job. Added to this they get to use some of the best facilities in the country that are made just for them, and get some of the best coaching and conditioning to prepare athletes for the next level. Scholarship student athletes will start life without any debt, while every other college student will have to pay off student loans for a long time.
The integrity and reputation of the Mid-American Conference is what college football is all about. It's no question the MAC is a stable conference that could arguably be one of the greatest conferences in the country as far as leadership, institutions, and overall presence in college football goes.
Taking a stand
The stance the MAC has taken to stand up and let the NCAA know that they are here to play, not pay will keep the NCAA in check and it will also give something for the power 5 conferences to think about. There is no interest in "buying" players, the MAC will recruit it's players without "cheating" as the commissioner put it.
Commissioner Steinbrecher and the coaches around the MAC want to compete for championships, play in bowls, and play against power 5 conference teams and have a fair chance at doing that, and the MAC would like to be known as a so called "power conference."
If pay for student athletes was ever introduced the MAC, and all the other smaller conferences, would be at an extreme disadvantage for upcoming seasons, giving teams in the smaller conferences an almost 0% shot at making any noise in college football.