BYU: Will paying athletes pay off?

In May, BYU announced that it will pay its student-athletes a stipend of $4,500 dollars for cost of attendance.  It puts the Cougars in the top 10 percent of COA-paying schools in the country.

For a school that isn’t in a Power 5 Conference, it is a big step.  The question is: will it pay off for the Cougars?

In a time when BYU is trying to get into a P-5 Conference, making noise such as this might put those power

Nov 29, 2014; Berkeley, CA, USA; Brigham Young Cougars head coach Bronco Mendenhall on the sideline between plays against the California Golden Bears during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

conference on notice especially the Big 12 who BYU football head coach Bronco Mendenhall has been known to lobby for an invite.

The problem with paying athletes this amount of money is that it is making athletics more about money and who has the most of it rather than the product that comes on the field and the winning.

Sure, it is a great sign that BYU is outspending every Pac-12 program including outspending Utah by nearly $1,000 and to some it might seem that BYU is really focusing hard on it’s football team and the fact that they mean business.

But as a religious school who still is without a conference, is it going to make a difference?  Utah can still say that they are part of the Pac-12 and that each year an athlete will get to play teams like Oregon, Stanford, Arizona, UCLA, and USC.  Will that $1,000 difference really make a big impact on an athletes decision of where he will attend?

“We will raise whatever money we to do what we need to do. But we are not going to keep up with the Joneses in every single area” – Tom Holmoe

“We are going to do what we do best, and this compete as hard as we can, with proper funding. We will raise a lot of money,” Holmoe said. “We will raise whatever money we need to do what we need to do. But we are not going to keep up with the Joneses in every single area.”

Even BYU assistant coach Guy Holliday had something to say about the fact that BYU is going to pay it’s student-athletes.

BYU has gone 8-5 in three consecutive seasons and have only won 11 games once in the past five.  They struggle to win the big games and BYU players, except for Ziggy Ansah and Kyle Van Noy haven’t been known to get drafted in the NFL.  It won’t matter how much money they dish out if they can’t perform on the field and stay relevant nationally.

Nov 23, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; BYU Cougars running back Jamaal Williams (21) carries the ball as Notre Dame Fighting Irish cornerback KeiVarae Russell (6) defends in the first quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

It might be money well spent if it makes a difference.  If the Cougars continue at their current trend though people might start to wonder why we pay the athletes if nothing has changed.  It might be a little far fetched that money would suddenly be the factor that determines whether or not a player all of a sudden decides to come to BYU.  We will see how it all plays out when the stipend starts getting paid out in 2016.