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Hawkeye players could cash in on Big Ten’s expansion

[ 0 ] November 20, 2012 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. — It’s not as if Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde needs the cash, but if the Big Ten Conference wants to share some of the money it expects to get from recent expansion, he’ll take it.

“The student-athlete is a huge part in generating that money,” Hyde said Tuesday. “Maybe someday it’s going to be like that.”

The conference’s addition of Maryland and Rutgers the past two days means more media rights money to each school. The Big Ten already returns roughly $24 million a year to each member, and that certainly will increase with the lucrative television markets in which the new members reside.

“The top priority should be the players,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said on Tuesday’s coaches teleconference. “Hopefully through all of this, we’ll make some decisions to distribute this money to the players.”

He mentioned paying for players’ families to attend bowl games. He mentioned more money spent on players’ bowl gifts.

Northwestern will continue after this weekend’s regular season concludes, and eventually Wildcat players will receive some bowl’s bounty of gifts.

Regardless of the outcome of Friday’s 11 a.m. game against 14th-ranked 9-2 Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium, 4-7 Iowa’s season is history.

Coach Kirk Ferentz and his players talked about that Tuesday, and they also talked about Maryland and Rutgers joining the conference.

“It’s a sign of the times,” said Ferentz, whose team will be trying to snap a five-game losing streak against a team that has the Rose Bowl on its radar. “(Expansion) is where we’re all going, it seems like. One thing that seems inevitable is change. It’s going to happen.

“Change has been good for the conference going back to (the addition of) Penn State, and certainly Nebraska.”

Yet while major conferences continue to reap financial benefits, players have received little in direct financial return.

Right or wrong?

“I watched a movie a couple years ago called ‘Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius,’ and I recommend it to anybody,” Hawkeye defensive tackle Steve Bigach said. “What Bobby Jones said in the movie was that the root of the word amateur, amo, is to play for the love of the game.

“He said adding money to the game will pervert the game, pervert the sport.”

Quarterback James Vandenberg said he couldn’t imagine being paid to play college sports.

“It’s not like we’re not getting anything,” he said, mentioning full-cost scholarships. “We’ve already been given so much, that to get money on top of it would seem bizarre.

“I know, though, a lot of players pushed for it, and if given that opportunity, I definitely wouldn’t give it back.”

That’s Bigach’s position, too.

“Maybe some people look at this as being hypocritical, but would I like an extra couple grand in my pocket? Absolutely,” he said.

“But I don’t play the game for money. I play the game for the guy next to me, and there’s a lot of guys like that.

“That, to me, is the game of football.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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