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Purdue's Landon Feichter wants to make this perfectly clear -- if he would get extra money from the NCAA, he wouldn't blow it on tattoos, "Star Wars" Stormtrooper uniforms, 200-inch TVs or anything else that might be considered, well, silly.
Not that a Stormtrooper outfit for a guy in his early 20s is silly.
“I'd like to think I'd use it wisely,” he says. “I'd like to say I'd invest it. I'm pretty smart with my money.”
And then, to make it clear about the tattoos, which once got some Ohio State football players in trouble, the senior safety adds:
“I do not have any tattoos. I don't want to get any tattoos."
Welcome to a brave new what's-in-it-for-me college sports world, where the buzz is about a future of stipends, also known as the full cost of a scholarship, that could range anywhere from an extra $3,000 to $6,000 a year per student-athlete. Speculation has it going only to full-scholarship athletes, which basically means football, men's basketball and women's basketball players, plus those lucky enough to earn full rides in such not fully scholarship funded sports as wrestling, baseball, soccer and more.
Everybody else, well, you're not worthy.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany favors this extra money. So do many of his BCS conference colleagues. Mid-major conference officials treat this with the enthusiasm of the bubonic plague. They can't afford it, and likely never will. Major conference officials can, and don't want the little guys telling them what to do.
But we digress.
Money and college athletes are everywhere you look these days, with the epicenter wherever Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel happens to be. The Heisman Trophy winner allegedly made thousands of dollars signing autographs, which would be a major NCAA violation and lead to a big-time suspension.
The NCAA is investigating. Manziel's family has hired a high-priced attorney. Texas A&M has hired a high-priced attorney. Many believe it's a lousy rule and if schools and the NCAA can make money on an athlete's image -- and they do -- then athletes should as well.
The only certainty in this is that attorneys are getting rich.
But, again, we digress.
So what do athletes want, and how will they react if extra cash comes their way?
Let's take a look.
Feichter, a former Bishop Dwenger standout, is a pre-dentistry major and a former academic All-Big Ten student. He seems level-headed and mature. Yes, he wouldn't object to getting extra money, although as a senior, he'll be long gone before anything is finalized.
“I know there is a big debate going on,” he says. “I don't know too many players who would not agree with it. I'd like to get a couple more thousands of dollars.”
What would you do with it?
“I'd use it wisely. At least I'd like to hope so.”
“That's what I'd tell my parents.”
Kenny Mullen is a junior cornerback at Indiana and a former Bishop Luers standout. He, too, favors a stipend.
“I feel if athletes had that stipend, it would help out financially, whether it's for families back home or for ourselves. I feel a lot of players would be smart with it.
“Sure, some would blow it, but some people are unfortunate with their family situation back at home, so it would help them.”
Purdue senior tight end Gabe Holmes also likes the idea of extra money and insists he wouldn't spend foolishly.
“I'd use it for groceries. Maybe I could save it and buy a car. I could take my girlfriend out to eat. Treat myself and buy some gloves, shoes. Good stuff. No stupid stuff. If it's stupid stuff, the money goes fast. I gotta keep it. I gotta let it last. Groceries, buy the girlfriend some things, a couple of shirts, a couple of pairs of shoes. Stuff like that.”
Food would top Boiler cornerback Ricardo Allen's wish list.
“If I had extra money, I would use it to eat good. I eat only organic food. My food is very expensive, so sometimes I don't have enough money to get the things I need for the whole semester. The extra $5,000 or whatever it would be, I would use to always eat good and have the right things at my house. I wouldn't go without things.”
The 5-9 Allen, who projects as one of the Big Ten's best defensive players, isn't joking about his healthy eating habits. For instance, chicken and seafood are in. Beef and pork are out.
“I'm picky about my food. I don't like things that are processed or mass produced or had pesticides all over them. I'm a short guy. I have to use every edge I can get. Eating healthy makes my body healthy, makes me train better, makes me sleep and run better.”
What do former players think? Consider IU defensive coordinator Doug Mallory, who was a standout defensive back at Michigan in the late 1980s. He's not excited about the idea of playing players.
“I'm probably a little old school on that, particularly for kids who are on scholarship. I think if you're on scholarship, getting a free education to go to school for free and have that opportunity to play Division I football, I don't know about a stipend.
“I know how I went through it. I had a summer job. I made enough money over the summer to last me through the year. I had to live off that. That's how I was raised. If we start paying these guys, it might start raising some issues.”
Does he think players would spend their money wisely? Mallory pauses.
“I don't know. I'm not sure.”
A Stormtrooper couldn't have said it any better.