NEW YORK — The new playoff system means big money for major college football, as much as a half-billion dollars per year just in television rights alone.
That has Texas coach Mack Brown — among others — wondering if some of that windfall should be heading the players way.
"In my opinion, with the amount of money the playoff will generate, I hope we can revisit the student-athlete stipend," Brown tweeted soon after the new, semifinal format was approved by university presidents Tuesday in Washington.
"It will be a very lucrative event and those young people are the ones that make it all possible," he added.
Even before the plan had a presidential seal of approval, a group of former and current athletes was pushing for some of the newfound wealth to be spent on player safety and health — an issue that becomes more important as the season expands.
The current Bowl Championship Series television deal with ESPN, plus the Rose Bowl's separate agreement with ABC, pay the major college football schools about $155 million per year. That money is distributed unevenly throughout college football, with power conferences such as the Big Ten and Big 12 getting more for their members than others such as the Mountain West and Conference USA.
The commissioners working on the playoff system have been reluctant to speculate on exactly how much the TV rights for it will be worth, but they all agree it'll be at least double.
Also, the new national title game will go to the highest-bidding city, which will pour millions more into the coffers of FBS schools. Officials in Arlington, Texas, home of the Cotton Bowl, and Atlanta, where the Chick-fil-A Bowl is played, are already lining up to make a pitch.
West Virginia athletics director Oliver Luck said that, to those who want the players to receive more money, all that playoff cash "is at least one more arrow in their quiver."
While NCAA President Mark Emmert has argued strongly against paying football players like professionals, in a manner that South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has been pushing the past two years, the fight over raising student compensation has started.
Last year, new legislation was approved that would have allowed schools to offer a $2,000 stipend, in addition to their scholarship, toward what the NCAA calls the full cost-of-attendance.
But the measure was tossed into limbo after more than 100 schools asked for an override vote. Critics were concerned about whether all schools would be able to afford it, especially with so many facing budget crunches in the economic downturn. Also, there is concern that the schools which can afford to pay the extra stipend will gain an advantage in recruiting.
Still, Emmert has said he would still like it passed, and he praised the approval of a new postseason format to replace the BCS.
Texas Tech athletics director Kirby Hocutt said it's too soon to start talking about what do with the extra money. Luck said he had been telling his bosses, even before the new playoff format, that they should start budgeting for the increased cost of scholarships.