What does a 12th game mean to the athletes?

When the NCAA was considering adding the 12th game, Paterno publicly declared his concerns to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (link here): “I think the athletic directors and the people who are on the Management Council have to decide whether we’re in this to educate kids or whether we’re in the business that these kids are going to be used to make money. And if you look at some of the graduation rates from around the country, you wonder. Now we’re going to play a 12th game? It’s going to be like basketball. None of these kids will go to school, if we’re not careful. I think we have to sit down and be reasonable about what we ask of kids.” Earlier this year, Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr told the Detroit News (link here) “I think the 12th game was just the first of what’s going to be a continued growth … we’re turning into a professional sport.”

According to the Washington Times (link here), Middle Tennessee State University was paid $500,000 for its football team to play to the University of Maryland last weekend, and lost 27-10. Troy University will receive $750,000 for its football team to compete against Nebraska on September 23. And, Florida Atlantic Universtiy will receive a total of $1.8 million for its football team to play Clemson, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and South Carolina this fall (the first three games resulted in a combined 147-14 score in three losses).

Many coaches see the added game as a benefit to their program. “It is a great thing for us financially, but even if that reward was not there, it would still be very important,” Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger told the Times. “With tongue in cheek, I have said time and time again that we would pay for the opportunity to play them.” Paul Wulff, head coach of the Eastern Washington University football team told the paper after his team lost, 52-3, to West Virginia University: “My No. 1 goal was to not get anyone seriously hurt. The [$450,000] gives us renovations in our locker room and coaches offices, video equipment and things for our weight room.”

CBSSportsline.com (link here) reported NCAA president Myles Brand supported the effort because the extra revenue from an additional game could also be used to help fund athletic departments that are losing money. The NCAA’s own blog, The Double-A-Zone (link here), mentions the monetary benefit to some schools and the poor competition from scheduling a 12th game, but fails to mention the impact on athletes’ study time and other campus opportunities.